Snowmobile licensing on horizon 

Whistler's snowmobile club welcomes move to license off-road vehicles

Whistler’s local snowmobile club is pleased that the provincial government is considering the adoption of a new set of rules to regulate off-road vehicles.

"I have to go on record and say I am very supportive and it is very necessary and urgently needed," said Nelson Bastien, president of Whistler’s Powder Mountain Snowmobile Club and a director of the B.C. Snowmobile Federation.

"… We realize it is very urgent that we get the licensing and the insurance in place and get some control on this industry."

The proposed recommendations for off-road, non-commercial vehicles come out of a three-year study by a coalition of 11 environmental and recreation organizations with a combined membership of over 120,000.

The recommendations form the substance of a report titled Solutions for a Sustainable Future which was presented to representatives of 11 different ministries last week by the Coalition for the Licensing and Registration of Off Road Vehicles.

The government is now considering the report, which recommends among other things mandatory registration, licensing and use of helmets when riding on public lands.

Initially the Snowmobile Federation chose not to be part of the coalition, said Bastien, but the government made it clear this was the best process to address some of the issues concerning it.

Snowmobilers were not happy with recommendations that money raised through new fees associated with the regulations be used for trails for off-road users such as ATVs

But, said Bastien, he feels there will be recognition that snowmobile clubs need trail money too, it’s just that it will be used for grooming machines and winter trail access.

One of the biggest concerns Bastien believes the new regulations will help address is liability insurance. If every rider has to get insurance then there will be proper coverage if accidents occur.

"…Now (riders) will have to get a licence plate or proper decal so after they knock you down you will hopefully be able to see their licence number so you have someone to go to after," he said.

"And it is going to help us promote safety amongst users."

Bastien would like the government to adopt the recommendations and formulate an Off Road Vehicles Act by the fall of this year or spring of 2007.

"It is really more urgently needed in the Sea to Sky corridor than some of the quiet places off in the Interior because the onslaught of tourists from Seattle and Lower Mainland is incredible," said Bastien.

"It is nothing to have 100 trucks roll in, try and park and unload their sleds on a Sunday morning.

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