Victoria Beach moves to ban off-road vehicles

Victoria Beach moves to ban off-road vehicles

9 October 2008

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Canada — A local government in Manitoba’s cottage country could pass a bylaw banning quads, dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles from municipal property as early as Oct. 21.

Raymond Moreau, chief administrative officer of the RM of Victoria Beach, said the bylaw passed first reading at last month’s council meeting and will be on the agenda again at the next meeting Oct. 21. There’s no guarantee it will be passed or even read at that meeting.

“We’re planning on prohibiting (off-road vehicles) from use on municipal property,” Moreau said, noting people could still ride on private property with the owner’s permission. “A lot of the vacant land in the area is municipal.

“We have a number of concerns, and one of them is the fire hazard. It’s heavily forested land. The other issue is the continual noise and the damage to the environment.”

Last spring, Manitoba Conservation investigators determined an ATV likely caused a 3,400-hectare forest fire in the Sandilands area. They believe mud and peat moss caught under the muffler heated up, then fell off, sparking the blaze.

Moreau said there have been some citizen complaints about ATV use and suggested most Victoria Beach residents would support the law.

Rick McQuay, who has a quad and a Bombardier at his Victoria Beach property, said a blanket ban isn’t the answer.

“There is the odd young person who is irresponsible but they can be dealt with using existing laws,” he said.

Trevor Watson, sales manager at Rond’s Marine, agreed, saying he hears customers complain all users get a bad rap.

“I think a lot of this is a few bad apples ruin it for everyone,” Watson said.

The neighbouring RM of St. Clements brought in its own off-road vehicle bylaw last month, but it does not apply to all municipal land.

Mayor Steve Strang said the intention was to give municipal bylaw enforcement officers more power to enforce laws previously only under provincial jurisdiction through the Off-Road Vehicles Act, like riding on roads or Hydro property.

“We’re not really taking away anything they haven’t ridden before,” Strang said. “I just think there needs to be a better understanding that the rules of the road need to be respected.”

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