Alberta councillors reject OHV registration

Sixty percent of rural delegates opposed the resolution for licensing, saying the fee would hurt rural residents and involve more government red tape

Alberta’s rural leaders won’t be lobbying the provincial government to institute a licensing system for off-highway vehicles anytime soon.

The decision came about following much debate during the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMD&C) annual convention on Nov. 15.

Rod Shaigec, the mayor of Parkland County, brought forward the resolution to lobby the province to launch a licensing system for OHVs.

He said the system would work like car licensing, where recreational users pay fees to operate OHVs. Non-recreational users, like farmers and ranchers, would be exempt from fees.

Shaigec said a licensing system is needed because the number of OHV users is increasing but there is little in place to ensure people comply with rules and are not disrupting land or wildlife habitats.

“There are people coming from the urban centres and thinking that rural municipalities are an open playground,” he said.

“They are not respecting our municipal reserves, our environment reserves and our agriculture community.”

Many farmers are calling him about OHV users being on their property and cutting fences, he added.

“There is livestock that have gone on to road right-of-ways,” he said. “In the winter, you’ve also got snowmobiles causing damage. So, we felt one of the ways to address it would be to have this user-pay format.”

But 60 per cent of rural delegates were opposed to Shaigec’s resolution.

Dale Gervais, who voted against licensing, argued it was a bad idea because it would involve more government regulation.

“I recognize this is a problem in certain areas in the province, but I don’t agree that we should take the hammer and hit everyone with these fees,” said Gervais, the reeve of the Municipal District of Greenview.

“Money being controlled by politicians is not a very reassuring situation, and there’s no guarantee that money would go to the areas that need it most.”

Shaigec disagreed.

“Nobody likes regulation, but is anyone complaining that you need to register your vehicle?” he asked. “No, they aren’t.

“This is about who pays the cost at a time when provincial budgets, federal budgets and municipal budgets are getting tighter.”

Going forward, Shaigec said it might come to the point where Parkland County might have to ban recreational OHV use to curb the problems.

“It’s what we might have to do, and that might force the issue,” he said.

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