ORV registration available to riders

Off-road-vehicle owners across B.C. have the option to register their vehicles with ICBC in an effort to increase responsibility, safety.

As of last Monday, off-road-vehicle (ORV) owners across B.C. have the option to register their vehicles with ICBC in an effort to increase responsibility, safety, and security for operators.

The improved ORV registration scheme, for ATVs, dirt bikes, side-by-sides, and snowmobiles, will require each ORV to have a visible number plate, and is intended to better assist police and conservation officers in identifying irresponsible riders, help track down stolen ORVs, and assist in search and rescue efforts in finding lost or injured riders.

For Trail Wildlife Association president Terry Hanik ORV registration makes sense and will make his job as Fort Shepherd Conservancy warden a little easier, helping him to identify riders that drive erratically and/or damage sensitive habitat.

“It’s a good idea, its the best thing that ever happened,” said Hanik. “It will be a lot safer now that its licensed . . . I have no problem with motor bikes and ATVs going down there, but if anyone steps out of line or say I’m not there the one day, if someone sees somebody doing something, instead of going to find a truck and where it came from, you can get the license number.”

To allow for a smooth transition, the new registration system is currently voluntary but will become mandatory on June 1, 2015, with the combined cost of the plate and one-time registration fee coming in at $48.

While many consider it a step forward for ATV Clubs across B.C., others consider it yet another government cash grab.

“Our members are half-and-half for this new request,” said Joya McIntyre, president of the West Kootenay ATV Club in an email. “Yes it is a one time fee, but some think, yes, a money grab. It is a good way to be able to track stolen machines but once they are gone, they are normally gone.”

In the Kootenays, theft of motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles is fairly widespread, so it is expected that a registered ORV will help the RCMP more readily identify or track stolen units.

“Off-road vehicle registration will help combat vehicle theft as well as promote safe and environmentally responsible use of ORVs in B.C’s backcountry,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations.

The Quad Riders ATV Association of BC has lobbied for registration for a number of years until the provincial government passed the ORV Act on Mar. 24.

“The Quad Riders ATV Association of BC fully supports the implementation of Bill 13 – the Off-Road Vehicle Act,” said Jeff Mohr, president of Quad Riders ATV Association, in a release.  “As the Nov. 17 date is set to start the registration and licensing process, we can now increase our focus on connecting the trail networks and increasing the opportunities for responsible riders to get out and enjoy the sport we love.”

In addition, changes to the Motor Vehicle Act regulations will allow off-road vehicle operators greater access to highways, including the ability to:

•Cross a highway without having to obtain an operation permit if the crossing is controlled by a stop sign or traffic light.

•Cross a highway where local police authorize through an operation permit.

• Load or unload in a parking lot without an operation permit.

• Obtain an operation permit with an extended term of up to two years.

B.C. is one of the last provinces to make licensing and registration mandatory, and the Off-Road Vehicle Act also gives officers the ability to stop, inspect and, where appropriate, seize ORVs for safety or evidence purposes. The maximum fine for offences has also increased from $500 to up to $5,000.

Quick Facts: An estimated 200,000 off-road vehicles are used in the province.

Snowmobiles have been registered in British Columbia since the 1970s.

ORVs are used in a variety of sectors in British Columbia, including farming, ranching, forestry, oil and gas, mining, sport, tourism and transportation, as well as search and rescue.