I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. As I look outside with the sun shining, spring flowers, and songbirds I am reminded just how lucky we are to live in BC with such beautiful nature at our doorstep.
And for folks in our rural communities with trails at their doorstep, the outdoor adventure is getting even better, with many local governments interested in ORV tourism as a turn-key opportunity on existing trail networks with designated access to municipal roads that allow ORVs to drive to restaurants, hotels, and gas stations. We are seeing more and more communities providing this type of access, with North Vancouver Island continuing to lead the way with a 1000 km loop connecting 10+ communities however the challenge that remains, is the requirement to obtain separate operation permits from each RCMP jurisdiction therefore ATVBC continues to support local governments ongoing engagement with provincial Ministries responsible for the Motor Vehicle Act, policing, and ICBC to streamline the process.
With efforts to improve the operation permit process underway, we also wanted to further develop ORV tourism opportunities, therefore ATVBC is working in partnership with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) to establish a motorized tourism specialist responsible for developing a motorized recreation strategy for the Thompson Okanagan region that will also be mandated to help implement the motorized components of the Kettle Valley trail master plan, pertaining to the development of ORV trail planning within the kettle valley rail trail corridor. To advance this initiative, TOTA in partnership with ATVBC has put forth a grant application to the Provincial ORV Trail Fund and is currently awaiting results of the 2020 intake.
The Backcountry Powersports Coalition of BC members ATVBC, BCORMA and BCSF have been busy adjudicating the 2020 ORV Trail Fund applications in partnership with Rec Sites and Trails BC (with ATVBC abstaining from adjudicating the TOTA application to avoid any conflict of interest) and it was extremely rewarding to see the quality of trail projects that were submitted. It always amazes me the extent of work and capacity of volunteer clubs to complete these large projects. Kudos to all trails volunteers, your efforts are enjoyed by many and immensely appreciated!!! Successful applicants will have up to 2 years to complete projects, which may be necessary due to delays related to COVID-19.
The applications for trails work were oversubscribed this year, however the applications for safe and responsible use were under-subscribed for the ATV sector, so just a reminder for the next intake in 2021 for your club to consider applying for funds for club promotion and membership drives to include banners, brochures, pack it in/out campaigns, or other educational materials as this is one of the only funding sources that allows these types of club expenses (and only requires 10% matching funds).
The Backcountry Powersport Coalition continues to work collaboratively and is currently developing standardized ORV road crossing signs for recommendation to Ministry of Transportation (signage with all 3 ORV icons – ATV, dirtbike, snowmobile)
As you are aware, unfortunately due to COVID-19, we had to cancel the 2020 Spring F2F in Chilliwack however are pleased to advise that we tentatively plan to host the 2021 Spring F2F in partnership with the rescheduled BC Outdoors Show on April 17, 2021 at Chilliwack Heritage Park – watch for further details in early Fall once the new Board of Directors has been formed and discusses events for 2021.
There have been ongoing efforts on the rail trails with ATV clubs and community groups from Brookmere to Summerland coming together to form a KVR Maintenance Coalition, to provide stewardship maintenance in partnership with the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen. This is an initiative to address ongoing maintenance efforts, however some recent landslides and washouts have prompted trail closures with extensive repairs needed before the trail can re-open.
In Dec 2019 Recreation Sites & Trails BC received an engineering assessment that was done on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail and Columbia & Western Rail Trail, prompting bridge closures on the KVR in Jan 2020, and triggering a further rail trail assessment in March/April 2020 with the province hiring McElhanney Consultants to complete the assessment. ATVBC participated in stakeholder engagement and provided input from a provincial perspective and liaised with local clubs to provide on the ground responses for individual sections of rail trail pertaining to their area, with many local clubs participating. ATVBC continues to engage on the rail trail assessment and will be submitting a Freedom of Information Request to obtain copies of the engineering report and assessment reports so that we can best support rail trail efforts and repairs moving forward.
Due to a recent accident on the rail trail involving a gate, ATVBC has made some inquiries and it has been determined that currently there is a gate standard for provincial parks only, therefore ATVBC has put forth a request that a provincial gate standard be established on recreational trails managed by RSTBC with safety as a primary focus.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a Shuswap Trails Alliance Roundtable meeting and was very impressed with the level of collaboration between user groups, it’s excellent to see a trails group getting past the motorized/non-motorized issues to significantly enhance the trail experience for each user group – their motto says it all “Don’t tell them where they can’t go, tell them where they can go”.
Also, in the spirit of collaboration, we have been in meetings with the Automotive Retailers Association, Powersport Division, to discuss areas of similar interest and cooperation to ensure quality ORV trail and tourism opportunities.
I look forward to the days where we can ride, camp and get together with friends and family as I’m sure all of you do as well, however until then If you find you have some extra time on your hands or looking for a break from Netflix while you are at home, here are some great trail resources from American Trails and the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) which are the US partners of our national organization, the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV).
They offer FREE webinars on a variety of trail topics, with past webinars available for download and upcoming webinars you can register for, please visit:
Kim Smith, General Manager
Quad Riders ATV Association of BC (ATVBC)