October 26th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 46
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Council mandates helmets or fines for OHV users
Bylaw changes will increase penalties
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
This summer a man was killed and a woman was injured after their Off-highway vehicle (OHV) rolled down an embankment north of Coleman.

RCMP said the female passenger sustained minor injuries while the male driver died as a result of the accident. Police believe alcohol was a factor.

Regarding the fatal rollover, neither party were wearing helmets, said Crowsnest RCMP Sgt. Greg Wiebe.

“I cannot speculate as to whether or not a helmet would have made a difference,” he said.

“I am certainly a proponent of wearing a helmet while using an OHV,” he continued.

From 2011 to 2015, 26 people were injured and one person was killed in quadding accidents in the Pass.

This week, the municipality is about to approve changes to its off-highway vehicle bylaw that will make it illegal to operate an all terrain vehicle in the municipality without a helmet.

The province’s Traffic Safety Act does not say that users have to wear a helmet while operating an OHV but municipalities in Alberta have the authority to create their own helmet bylaws.

At a Governance and Priorities Meeting on Oct. 18, council discussed the changes to Off-Highway Vehicle Control Bylaw 722, 2007. If the bylaw is passed, OHV users could face fines of up to $1,000 for riding helmet-less.

In addition to the new helmet law, the municipality is drastically increasing fines for offenders, rewriting definitions so the bylaw conforms to the Traffic Safety Act and relegating OHVs to the ditch or shoulder of the road in non-urban areas.
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Under the old bylaw, Peace Officers and the RCMP could hand out penalties of no more than $500 for any OHV offence but the new bylaw has a tiered list of 15 different penalties.

It will still be illegal to operate an OHV in the community’s urban areas, which are defined as anywhere in the municipality that has a curb and a gutter.

Whereas the old penalty for driving in an urban area was $500, the new penalty is a maximum of $2,500.

“We’re trying to give the Peace Officer some discretion,” said CAO Sheldon Steinke. “If you drive down main street Blairmore and you cause a traffic jam, you might get the maximum but you’re driving in a residential area and you’re wearing a helmet and it’s a first offence, it allows the officer to say ‘I can’t let you off but I can break your ticket down to a different level.’”

The bylaw also regulates how OHV drivers use non-urban roads. Users will now be obliged to use the ditch. If the road has no ditch, they’ll have to use the shoulder and if there is no shoulder they’ll have to use the extreme right hand side of the lane.

“What we want to do is encourage the OHVs to stay out of normal traffic lanes where highway vehicles can travel, if possible,” said Steinke. “But they still want to allow OHV users to travel down roads that don’t have ditches or shoulders as long as they’re doing it a certain way.”

In addition, OHVs must be registered, insured, display a valid licence plate, have appropriate equipment such as a muffler and lights as required under the TSA. The operator must have a valid licence, be a minimum of 14 years old and passengers are only permitted on an OHV if the design allows for it.

Steinke said the bylaw has been rewritten with enforcement in mind.
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“The internal wording of the bylaw has been changed quite radically because we wanted to have a document that is defensible in court,” he said. “The old document was deemed not defensible. There were too many inconsistencies.”

The bylaw makes allowances for OHVs to be used as snowplows and weed sprayers. It also allows for OHVs to be used for community events, such as parades, as long as the organizers have the proper permitting.

The package of changes were discussed during the spring and summer of this year when concerned residents asked council to change the bylaw.

A delegation of residents living along Tecumseh Road made a number of presentations to council complaining of OHV users speeding past their homes.

Then in July, about 95 residents attended an open house to discuss the issue.

Council and administration redrafted the bylaw with help from Brownlee LLP, a law firm with offices in Edmonton and Calgary.
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October 26th ~ Vol. 85 No. 46
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