Owners wanting to operate off-road vehicles in B.C. must register them by Nov. 1 and clearly display a visible number plate or sticker or face stiff fines.
The one-time $48-registration fee comes after the Off-Road Vehicle Act was passed on March 24, 2014, replacing the 40-year-old Motor Vehicle (All Terrain) Act.
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said the ORV community has been asking for a proper registration program for years.
“Hopefully it will stop theft and if your vehicle is stolen there will be an identification because it’s registered,” Barnett said Monday, noting it will also promote safety.
Under the act, officers have the ability to stop, inspect and where appropriate, seize ORVs for safety or evidence purposes.
The maximum fine has been increased from $500 to $5,000 and some offences include up to six months in jail.
Fines for violation tickets have also increased; for example, careless operation of an ORV increased from $115 to $368 and operating an unregistered ORV on Crown land increased from $58 to $230.
The fines are more of a deterrent than anything, Barnett said.
“When you look at people riding in areas of sensitivity to the environment or on people’s property without permission there are people who don’t obey the rules of the land and the road so hopefully this will help stop some of it.”
Local rancher and vice-president of the Williams Lake Off Road Motorcycle Association, Roger Patenaude agrees with promoting respectful and safe operation of off road vehicles, but said ranchers are not really happy about how cumbersome the regulations are.
“We are trying to get them to classify ATVs as an implement of husbandry the same as we do with our tractors,” Patenaude said.
“We are allowed to operate our tractors on the highways in our ranch boundaries and then we’re covered by ICBC with liability insurance.”
Registering ATVS, however, is not an issue, but right now they have to register them and then go to the RCMP for a special use permit for highway use.
The permit, Patenaude said, does not necessarily allow them to drive on highways, just the side of the road, so if they are trying to get cows off the highway it doesn’t do them much good.
As with other vehicles, owners must provide proof of ownership and payment of applicable taxes at time of registration, and ORV riders 12 years and older will also be required to carry government issued photo ID.
All monies collected for the registration will go into running the program, Barnett said.