End of the road for quads, dirtbikes and skidoos in Beaverlodge

·3 min read

Off-highway vehicles will no longer be permitted to operate within town limits, Beaverlodge council decided Monday night.

The decision is a result of amendments approved to the town traffic bylaw 1010.

The move to prohibit the use of off-highway vehicles such as dirt bikes, quads and skidoos came from administration cleaning up the bylaw's language. As it turned out, Section 5 clause B of the previous bylaw is believed to be a liability issue for the town, said Jeff Johnston, chief administrative officer (CAO).

Previously, off-road vehicles were permitted within town limits, as long as they were taking the shortest route in and out.

“We carry a lot of liability because we're allowing essentially uninsured, unregistered (vehicles) on our roads and lands,” said Johnston.

Council also discussed the abuse of the previous clause by a few in the town, though councillors conceded those didn’t represent all users.

Still, mayor Gary Rycroft said it was that abuse that drove changes to the bylaw.

“It's basically those few that have spoiled it for everybody else, and then the liability, so it's a double edge,” he said.

The mayor then said that it has been “a long time coming.”

“Back in 2001, the very first thing that was on the agenda were the loud quads and ATVs being operated in the town, so here we are 20 years later.”

Multiple councillors said they had experiences outside their homes with primarily young people using such machines without leaving town, and those being “loud and fast”.

“This is unique because Beaverlodge is the only community where this goes on,” said Coun. Hugh Graw. He noted that when people in other municipalities like Wembley get caught driving their off-highway vehicles in the town, they get towed.

He also noted that he has heard from property owners outside of town who have people ride over their land without permission and cause damage to their fields.

The CAO noted that having off highway vehicles on the town's roads is not something most urban centres would not allow.

“Just because people have been doing it for 30 years doesn't mean that it was right,” said Coun. Judy Kokotilo-Bekkerus, though she also questioned the enforcement of the bylaw.

“The intent would be to do an educational aspect first before we enforce,” said Johnston.

“My role is to protect the community, and that's the driver behind this,” said the CAO.

Kokotilo-Bekkerus said that she wished the town could keep the clause but ultimately understood what administration was saying in terms of risk management.

Operators of off-highway vehicles will still be permitted to do so on their own land, or land where they have had permission to access.

No specific fine was set for operation of an off-highway vehicle in town at the Monday night, but the bylaw states any unspecified fine is $50.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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