New laws that would require registration and visible identification of dirt bikes and ATVs — rules promised more than two years ago — remain in limbo with no firm commitment on introduction by government.
Officials from the office of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations confirmed Friday that off-road vehicle legislation announced in the fall of 2009 is not on the government’s legislative agenda this spring.
“We cannot commit to a firm timeline, but will continue to work to finalize the outstanding issues,” the ministry said in an email statement.
That message is in stark contrast from November 2009, when then-minister Kevin Krueger said it could take as long as two years to introduce.
"You will register at purchase and acquire a plate, something that I envision will be like a snowmobile decal, only more visible,” he said then.
Current Minister Steve Thomson was not available for comment Friday, his office said.
Amber Cowie, co-ordinator for B.C. Grasslands Conservation Council, is among the leaders working with government to bring in the rules. Other representatives include ranchers and ATV groups.
She said there is no appetite in government to bring in new rules and fees a year before a provincial election.
“There’s a decision that cost to families would be too high. They’ve decided at this time to shelve it,” she said.
The concept of registering off-road vehicles — so that riders who trespass and tear up sensitive lands could be identified — has been endorsed by groups that include municipal governments, ranchers and even riders’ groups themselves. But details, including costs, have proved an impassable barrier so far.
New Democrat critic Norm Macdonald said groups have been working since 2005 to get rules in place to protect wilderness and grasslands from damage.
“You’ve got to get your act together. It’s been promised forever. Groups were told to do the work and did the work in good faith. There was a commitment and now government says they don’t want to do it before an election.”
Cowie said there are provincial bureaucrats committed to making it work but there is no political backing.
“There’s always a reason not to go forward. At the same time someone has to make the right decision.”