July 20th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 29
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Open house on off-highway vehicle bylaw
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Archive Photo
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Last week council held an open house to gather input from residents about the off-highway vehicle bylaw.

About 95 residents attended the event, which invited comment on potential changes to ATV usage in the backcountry.

Council told the folks that attended that they will consider the input from the open houses but not to expect any decision from council until September or October.

The use of OHVs in the Pass is a contentious issue. Some residents argue OHV riders bring extra income to the community but their opponents gripe about excessive noise, a lack of enforcement and the damage ATVs inflict on trails and streams.

A delegation of residents led by Terry Ostrom have been before council a number of times outlining their concerns about OHV use in the Tecumseh area.

The current bylaw (722, 2007 – Off-Highway Vehicle Bylaw) can be viewed online.

Gary Clark, president of the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad, said he believes the bylaw is, in general, good for the community as is but he acknowledged that Ostrom and other concerned residents have legitimate concerns.
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“Inconsiderate OHV users who do not obey speed and noise bylaws during quiet time can interrupt the quality of their lives,” he said. “The mayor and council have a very difficult task ahead of them. We feel that the bylaw is a viable option but there needs to be a number of changes to put more "teeth" into it and make enforcement easier.”

Clark said the bylaw should include a section making helmets mandatory and should adhere to the age limits outlined in the Traffic Safety Act. The law should make sure OHVs are properly registered and insured and that users have a valid class five or seven operator's licence so they know the rules of the road.

It should have a section that sets a speed limit of 20 kilometres per hour within the municipality, said Clark, and only allow users to ride during daylight hours.

The law could also make it mandatory for riders to take the most direct route to the backcountry, or from the backcountry while riding in and out of the community, he said.
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Clark said the bylaw should impose some type of yearly permit fee of about $50.

“This could raise monies for the Crowsnest Pass and help towards the cost of enforcement,” he said.

The present maximum fine under the bylaw is $500 and Clark suggested offenders be consistently ticketed and fined.

“It wouldn't take many tickets for the word the get around,” he said.

Clark admitted that the issue of OHV use in the Pass has always been a hot topic but argued the economic impact that this recreational activity brings to the community is huge.

He estimated that each weekender who comes to the Pass to ride spends about $500 per trip on food, fuel and other goods in local businesses.

“Multiply that by the thousands that come here each weekend,” he said. “You can do the math. Tourism is probably the biggest industry we have and we need to expand on that.”
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July 20th ~ Vol. 85 No. 29
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