Merritt council calling to allow ATV-owning citizens to clear snowy streets in BC

·3 min read

On Jan. 12, 2021 the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) called for resolutions for this year’s SILGA conference to be submitted by Friday, Feb. 26.

Director of Corporate Services, Greg Lowis addressed mayor and council at the regular council meeting of Feb. 9 with a draft resolution for SILGA, which would then ideally be taken from there on to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).

“The conversations that you were having at that meeting (Jan. 12) revolved around snow clearance, snow maintenance and so the message that I took from that was that these were the sorts of draft resolutions that you would be looking for to potentially submit to SILGA,” said Lowis.

The draft resolution put before council requested that SILGA call upon the Provincial Government to work more closely with municipalities to identify any deficiencies or flaws in snow-clearing on arterial routes, and requests that reasonable municipal requests be heeded and that municipal authorities be given a voice in setting standards for snow clearance.

This resolution comes as a result of the many years of complaints about snow clearing on Nicola Ave. which meets highway maintenance standards, but not City standards. Many businesses are left with large snow piles on the curbs, eliminating parking and making it difficult for customers to access those businesses.

“After reading this letter, this draft resolution, the thought occurred to me that, I like it a lot,” said Councillor Bhangu.

“And I like it because it takes into consideration the concerns citizens have brought forward, and I appreciate that you incorporated citizen concerns into these resolutions.”

“I know that council past and current have talked to the Ministry of Transportation on this issue for a number of years, and we’ve had citizens come to us for a long time,” said Mayor Brown.

“So, it’s not as if we haven’t lobbied individually, but this is the first time we’ve brought it to SILGA with the hope of bringing the Southern Interior in on this as well, and ultimately to UBCM, so I’m happy with the wording.”

The second resolution proposes that the Motor Vehicle Act be modified to allow the use of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) for snow clearing on municipal streets, which is currently prohibited for private owners.

Councillor Luck, who previously suggested that ATVs should be permitted to clear snow in extreme events such as the Dec. 21, 2020 storm where 44cm of snow fell in 24 hours, was in support of that idea as was Mayor Brown, who believed that seniors and those with disabilities could be greatly helped by their neighbours in these instances.

“ATVs are a lot more available than any other piece of equipment to help them out, so I think this is a really good start,” said Mayor Brown, who also noted that when she lived in Kenora, Ont. ATVs were regularly used to plow snow.

“I know that this is a year of change with ICBC so if they can make this amendment after the care plan comes into effect after May,” said Councillor Etchart.

“I think it would be timely if it’s discussed at UBCM, because right now the government is changing the insurance act, at least in BC. So, maybe something could be worked out with certain parameters… I don’t see why it couldn’t be done because other provinces seem to do that as well.”

The motion to submit the resolutions to SILGA was carried unanimously.

Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald