Greenwood residents and ATV users met to discuss the possibility of making Greenwood an ATV-friendly city last week, bringing back a proposal that has been on the table for over a year.
The meeting, hosted by the City of Greenwood with presentations from the Greenwood Boundary ATV Club and the Grand Forks ATV Club, was open to the public to provide feedback and ask questions about the proposed “ATV-friendly” status. ATV-friendly would mean that users could ride along city streets from their point of origin to the nearest trail, excluding Highway 3.
Licensing would work on a registration-based basis. For the first year, ATVers will be given a decal noting their register status, every subsequent year the decal will be updated with year stickers, similar to ICBC decals on cars.
“We are not proposing you drive it all over town,” said Boundary ATV Club president John Ingbritson.
Ingbritson later said that making the city ATV-friendly was a matter of making ATVing easier.
“There are a lot of people in this area who have ATVs and instead of having to transport them to unloading areas, trying to make it legal to get out of town to the trails,” he said. “Right now, the way it stands when anyone leaves their driveway they [on an ATV] are illegal.”
He added that as of last year, a fine for riding an ATV on a city street was a steep $600 fine, which he says has been enforced.
Ingbritson said there would be no money coming out of city pockets to administer the permit, and Acting Chief Administrative Officer Wendy Higashi said the city might likely take a small commission off the registrations, to cover the cost of administration. While everything is still in the proposal stage, Ingbritson said, the club is estimating a $10 registration for the first year, with a $5 renewal every year following. They are also proposing that select ATV club members or local businesses be allowed to administer the licenses along with city hall, to make it more accessible.
Greenwood resident Ciel Sander questioned whether adequate notice of the meeting was given, noting that she believed many attendees at the meeting were ATV club members.
“I’m not sure that everyone is here who needs to be here. We have basically close to 450 voters and a lot aren’t here. I didn’t get the notice,” Sander said. Higashi confirmed that residents opted out of junk mail would not have received the notice of the public meeting in their post office box, but the city also advertised the meeting on social media.
Sander also said she was not against the propsal, but wanted more information and enquired about whether the city had considered becoming cycle or walk friendly.
Ingbritson said the proposal was strict, and includes safeguards against ATV use all over town.
“Our proposal is you can ride in town from your residence or campsite to the nearest trail, but you cannot ride downtown or all over town, shopping,” he said. He added that several communities in B.C. have successful ATV-friendly bylaws, including Tumbler Ridge and Elkford, as well as many more communities in Ontario.
The proposal was originally brought to council last September, before losing momentum over the the winter, in part because of Ingbritson’s departure for the winter months and because of the legal troubles facing council at the time. With the byelection closed and a full city council once more, Ingbritson said it seemed like a good time to bring up the proposal once again.
Higashi said the proposal will be thoroughly reviewed by council, after a bylaw is drafted. It will then go through three readings, before being passed at a separate meeting of council and a fourth reading.
Kathy Wright, a Christina Lake resident, was present at the meeting and said she’s in support of the initiative, having come from a small town where ATV-friendly was the norm.
“We really had no issues with it. The tourism it brought in and the commerce to the area was huge,” Wright said. “I absolutely support it and I think it is fantastic.”
Doug Zorn with the Grand Forks ATV Club said the meeting is a forum for hearing concerns about the use of ATVs on select city streets. But, he said, the level of engagement with the environment and the city from club members is positive.
‘We find that most people who join the club and go out there, take more pride and ownership [of the trails],” Zorn said.