Is it winter, or is it spring? In the area I live, mother nature doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Some parts of our province are still riding, and others are digging out of the snow. A large amount of our “semi-retired” members are down south enjoying the riding in warmer climates and experiencing the joys of riding on roads and between communities. This type of riding is a huge draw for tourists and many areas in the southern United States are benefiting from the creation of this system. ATVBC is committed to finding a way to make this type of riding available to communities in BC. Not only does this represent ORV Tourism opportunities but it allows communities to address safety and accessibility concerns in a proactive and engaging manner.

Steps have been taken in the past through the creation of the ORV Act and the use of MV1815 permits, but more needs to be done to create a process that is available to all communities who support it, without holding the authority with just one group (RCMP).

There needs to be a more inclusive approach to creating access to the communities for the benefit of recreation. As we move closer to the annual UBCM conference in September 2024, ATVBC will be working with communities to prepare policies to push for changes to the ORV Act to create a fair and equitable approach to ORV access and licensing for travel on roadways to create routes from trails into communities for riders to access basic amenities. If your community is interested in getting involved, please reach out to ATVBC.

In last months message I spoke about the Federal and Provincial Governments funding announcements to support the development of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA), and I encouraged us all to do our part to further understand these goals and potential impacts.

IPCA’s are one part of the Federal Governments commitment to their 30 by 30 nature conservation goals which will change the way in which all outdoor recreationalists operate.

Since last month, ATVBC has met with other outdoor recreation groups to discuss the impacts and has co-signed a letter to the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, asking them to survey their members to better understand how the IPCA’s will affect the outdoor recreation sector as a whole. In it our intention to better understand the impacts and find ways to support our members through these changes to limit the potential negative impacts and build on the positive opportunities that can be created.

Having said this, we recognize that the province needs to step up to provide better clarity on the process of declaring an IPCA and what this means for both indigenous communities and the recreational users amongst our organizations. We are drafting a letter to government to ask for clarity around the process and will be requesting that government provide the resources our associations will need to manage the shift in approach to land management.

As this work progresses, we will update our membership through our website and social channels. If you would like to learn more about the work we are doing please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to me at [email protected]

In early February, we shared with you our press release regarding our concerns for the Provincial Governments process for consultation on changes to the Land Act. Since issuing our press release, we had the opportunity to meet with Minister Cullen and his staff along with other members of the Outdoor Recreation community and ask further clarification questions on the process and the potential impacts of these changes. As you may have heard the pressure of the public has caused the government to stop the process of changes to the land act.

ATVBC strongly believes that meaningful consultation must take place to ensure all voices are heard. The public response to consultation around the changes to the land act was a great example of why the need for meaningful consultation is so imperative and we are grateful for the opportunity to engage with the minister and ask our questions to seek clarification.

So, what does this mean? It is clear to us that our members share concerns about what the potential changes to the land act could mean for public land access. We are prepared to work with government and indigenous leaders to better understand these changes as they come forward as we do believe this topic is not over, rather has been put on a back burner and will likely come forward again in the near future. ATVBC will continue to keep our fingers on the pulse of this topic on behalf of our members and bring forward any updates as they come available.

As reported in my last months report, we have 2 very important funding opportunities that are coming due in the next few weeks.

The ORV Trail Fund is open until March 4th at NOON. Please note there are some changes to the fund policy this year that you will need to review and understand before applying. The max funding available is $25,000.

The ATVBC Trails & Maintenance Grant Intake #2 is open for applications until March 15th at 5pm. For those clubs looking to do projects in 2024, apply now!

Our work with the Four-Wheel Drive Association of BC (4wdabc) on gaining a better understanding on the current status of the closure of the Gill Road Recreation area has continued into 2024. We have sent requests for clarification on the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund project announced by the province and asked for engagement with the city of Chilliwack and the Stó:lō Service Agency on behalf of the Pil’alt Tribe.

A recent open house was held by the project facilitators and members of the 4wdabc were on hand to represent our desire to engage in the process in a meaningful way. We are hopeful that we can sit down with project facilitators to assist in developing a plan to allow all members of the community access to this important outdoor recreation area.

Another big area of focus of the last month has been in our work with the BC Power Sports Coalition and our “Trails Best practice guidelines project”. In 2023, we completed phase 1 of this project and now we are moving into phase 2 which included a development of a new RFP. Deadline for submissions is March 1st and the start date for the winning bid will be as early as March 8th. We are encouraged by the commitment of Rec Sites and Trails (RSTBC) to assist in funding and engaging on this project to move it forward.

The beginning of the year is a busy time for renewals of our sponsorship agreements with our key partners. A new updated sponsorship package has been created to address opportunities for more exposure for our sponsors and a better rate of return. If you have a product or service that is ATV/UTV related that you would like to share with our 5000+ members, reach out to us to learn how we can promote you!

It is a busy time here at ATVBC, with staff and board directors working hard to complete their tactical plan objectives and planning of the 2024 ATVBC events. Stay tuned for updates through our social media channels, website and our e-newsletters.

Lastly, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to our members for your support of ATVBC over the years and continuing to support us to represent your voice at government. We are a membership organization and as such we are dependent on the support of our members. Over the next few months, you will see new promotions highlighting the value of membership and encouraging new members to join. Please help us in sharing these promotions with your fellow riders as we are all stronger together. The bigger ATVBC gets the bigger impact we can make!

Until next time,