Proposed Legislation Would Ensure Off-Road Vehicle Organizations Can Continue Support for Safe, High-quality Recreation Opportunities While Protecting Natural Ecosystems: Wharton
The Manitoba government is introducing the off-road trails safety and maintenance act, which would ensure that users of off-road vehicles (ORV) would have access to safe, high-quality recreation opportunities by supporting organizations that lead this important work, Environment, Climate and Parks Minister Jeff Wharton announced today.
“Organizations like Snowmobilers of Manitoba Inc. (Snoman) and the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Manitoba (ATVMB) manage the province’s ORV trail networks, ensuring Manitobans and visitors have access to safe, high-quality ORV recreation opportunities,” said Wharton. “We want to ensure that their important work is not limited by increased costs for labour and fuel, aging equipment and reduced volunteer capacity. This new legislation will help provide additional tools for these organizations, support the rehabilitation of lands impacted by ORV use and ensure we continue to protect natural ecosystems.”
The proposed off-road trails safety and maintenance act includes a $25 annual fee for registered ORVs to ensure organizations have access to sufficient, sustainable resources for initiatives, the minister noted.
The funding generated by user fees would be provided to ORV organizations to support:
- trail development and maintenance;
- safety education, training and promotion;
- emergency trail repair;
- rehabilitation of lands damaged by unauthorized ORV use;
- operations and administration of Snoman and ATVMB; and
- trail capital projects, if sufficient funds are available.
“Snoman is pleased with the introduction of this bill today. It is a step to enabling the financial sustainability of the trail network and our volunteer clubs, which is what our members have been calling for,” said Jason Wiebe, president, Snoman. “Without financial stability, there is a threat of a loss of trails due to a lack of funding. As well, we are keen on being proactive and finding solutions throughout our more than 13,000 kilometres of trail with the introduction of new technologies that reduce our impact on the environment.”
The $25 annual fee would be collected by Manitoba Public Insurance at the same time as ORVs’ annual registration. The annual fee would not apply to ORVs exempt from registration under the Drivers and Vehicles Act.
“ATVMB is pleased to see the Manitoba government introduce a user-pay funding model for ORVs in Manitoba. This funding will allow for proper maintenance and signage of trails, safety training and further development of multi-use trails in Manitoba,” said Kim Wozniak, executive director, ATVMB. “Manitoba is blessed with a multitude of recreational trail options that can be enjoyed by all, whether on foot, on horseback, skiing, biking or on an ORV. ATVMB is committed to providing safe, well-maintained trails for all who choose to enjoy them.”
In addition, the legislation also proposes changes that would allow for modernized and more convenient ways for Manitobans and visitors to access products online, like short-term Snopasses.
Improved access to Snopasses, coupled with user fee revenues, would contribute to a more robust network of high-quality trails for Manitobans and visitors to enjoy, the minister noted. New trails, along with the expansion of existing routes, would also support economic development across the province, particularly in rural communities, the minister said, adding that if the proposed legislation is approved it is anticipated the new fee would take effect in late 2023.
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