Registration required for all off-road vehicles

Off-road vehicle registration and liability insurance are mandatory on Crown land as of Nov. 1.

Off-road vehicle registration and liability insurance are mandatory on Crown land as of Nov. 1.

That means that if you haven’t got your paperwork for your ATV or trail bike done yet, you’ve got to get moving.

The new regulations promote safe and responsible use of B.C.’s backcountry, and include provisions on number plate placement, rules for child operators and safety equipment requirements.

But that’s not all, according to Mike Lees of the Cowichan Valley ATV Club.

ATV owners were urged to get licenced starting last year.

“It was available last fall. I did it as soon as it came out,” he said.

“If you are riding on Crown land, which includes forest service roads, then you must have liability insurance. However, if you are only riding on your own private property, you still have to have it registered but you’re not required to have the licensing.”

The Crown land aspect is pretty simple to figure out, he said.

“In order to cross the road at a stop sign, you must have insurance. If you cross the highway, if you’re out trespassing on TimberWest or Island Timberlands or whatever, you still have to get there and in order to travel on a gazetted forest service road, you need insurance.”

Have ATV owners been calling for this registration?

“Well, one of the things that’s been happening is that there have been huge thefts of unregistered ATVs and dirt bikes throughout the province. So there have been calls for licensing from Quad Riders ATV Association of B.C. The only bad thing about it is that now the government, in their wisdom, has decided that if you bought it from somebody else they’re going to hit you for tax if you bought it anytime after 2010.”

It’s all about proof of ownership, too.

“If you didn’t buy it [your ATV] from a dealership, you have to go to a notary public and swear an affidavit that you bought it legally and you own it. That establishes ownership. The thing that’s going to happen in some cases is that ATVs may have been through two or three hands and it could have been stolen years back. Now, after [the ATV] goes through the affidavit process and gets registered and it’s in the system, it could still pop up later as having been a stolen unit.

“The registration thing is going to make the trading in stolen ATVs a lot harder to do, though,” he said.

The move to registration allows B.C. to catch up with its neighbouring provinces.

“They are even registered in Alberta and Saskatchewan. B.C. is the only province, from what I understand that didn’t have registration,” Lees said.

So hunters who want to take their ATV from here to the prairies, for instance, will have to prove their registration.

“We’re comfortable with it, we knew we had to do it. We have always preached that you must carry liability insurance. You have to have it to travel on forest service roads anyway,” he said.

Most ATV owners in his experience go to ICBC first for the registration and the minimum insurance and then go to one of a couple of private insurance companies for liability, theft and collision — wherever they can get their best deal.

“Those companies are affiliated with the organizations like Quad Riders ATV B.C., they offer us a discount,” Lees said.

Nov. 1 is the deadline this time.

“If you are caught without being registered and insured, you’re going to get an $840 fine, just the same as driving your car without insurance,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the operating standards call for:

• helmets

• seatbelts, (if a manufacturer has installed seatbelts, then the seat belt must be worn during the operation of that vehicle).

• lights, off-road vehicles (ORV) must use lights during low visibility conditions when riding on Crown land 30 minutes after sunset or 30 minutes before sunrise.

• supervision of children.

The off-road vehicle registration is integrated within ICBC so it’s straightforward to register.

The regulations also offer a sticker option for those vehicles which are unable to house metal plates. Owners who already secured an ORV number plate during voluntary registration can, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2015, bring their registration and metal plate to any ICBC broker and exchange their metal plate for a sticker for no charge.

As well, snowmobile owners who have already registered their vehicles under the Motor Vehicle (All Terrain) Act will be eligible for a refund, up until Nov. 16, when they register under the ORV Act.

Voluntary registration has been in place since Nov. 17, 2014, and since then over 35,000 users have registered.

As of Nov. 1, 2015, registration will be mandatory. The combined cost of the number plate and registration fee remains $48.

For more detailed information on the new ORV regulations there is a detailed FAQ at: www.for.gov.bc.ca/mof/orv/

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