With the summer slowly wearing away and the fall rapidly approaching, preparations for the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention have been thrust upon communities throughout the Columbia Valley, including that of the Village of Canal Flats.
Like other municipalities attending the convention, Canal Flats has received the letter from provincial minister Peter Fassbender informing them they will have until August 12th to submit a form detailing specific ministers that they would like to meet with at the convention to discuss municipality specific issues.
At Canal Flats council meeting on July 11th, council put forward a number of issues and the respective ministers they hope to be able to meet with at the convention in Victoria that will happen on September 26th later this year.
The first issue, brought forward by councillor Paul Marcil, was that of unregulated and illegal all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and dirt bike usage on town and public roads. At a council meeting in June, the issue was presented to council from the perspective of a concerned citizen about the disruption of peace within the community as well as the safety and liability concerns associated with it.
Cpl. Grant Simpson of the Columbia Valley RCMP detachment was on hand and addressed the legality of the issue.
According to the Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Management Framework (the legislation established for regulating usage of ORV such as ATVs and dirt bikes), in order to use or operate your ORV on Crown Land, owners must register their off-road vehicle and clearly display an ICBC number plate or sticker. It also contains measures for increased safety such as wearing a safety helmet, and informs riders they are permitted to cross highways given they are properly insured and registered owners.
Marcil said that he has been on council for five years now with this issue being a reoccurring theme for much of his duration in office.
“My concern is simply safety and liability,” he said. “I’ve had incidents where I’m backing out of my garage and suddenly some youngster on an ATV is yelling behind me.”
“It’s sort of part of living in the valley and is one of those things that people like to do, but it’s also one of those things that if someone ran into you or you ran into someone, where are we at?” he said.
Marcil said he hopes representatives from Canal Flats will be able to meet with Mike Morris, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety, at the UBCM convention to determine the legality of this issue with proper enforcement to follow.
Mayor Ute Juras said they are also planning to meet with the Premier and other ministers such as Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thompson to talk about issues such as the mill closure for future municipalities.
“I’m not sure if there’s anything that can be done to get this back up and operational, especially since Canfor said that they will not sell to any kind of competitor whether they are a small mill or large, but who knows, maybe we can prevent someone else from going down this road,” she said.