Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

‘CONSULTATION’ DEEMED INADEQUATE – Trails Only Yukon Association members are calling for better consultation by the Yukon government on off-road vehicle regulations. Seen left to right at this morning’s news conference are association representatives Philip Merchant, Ken Taylor and Vern Peters.

ORV consultation called confusing, badly timed

Changes need to be made to how the territory is consulting Yukoners on regulations governing the use of off-road vehicles (ORVs), say Trails Only Yukon Association (TOYA) members.

By Stephanie Waddell on May 14, 2015

Changes need to be made to how the territory is consulting Yukoners on regulations governing the use of off-road vehicles (ORVs), say Trails Only Yukon Association (TOYA) members.

The group advocates for responsible ATV use and protection of sensitive wilderness areas.

It issued a call this morning for a more open consultation process, which includes public meetings and happens in the fall, as well as an improved discussion paper to be published by the Yukon government on the topic.

As TOYA members Vern Peters, Ken Taylor and Philip Merchant outlined during a press conference today, the June 22 deadline the territory has set on public input over potential regulations is just 60 days.

It comes at a time of year when many residents are away or busy with summer activities, TOYA noted.

The discussion paper released on potential regulations is “woefully lacking,” Taylor said, with Peters then taking issue first with the photos published.

Peters pointed to a number of pictures in the document featuring landscapes from around the territory or a few ATV riders driving along trails.

He argued they don’t tell the whole story. Missing are the larger ATVs, Argos and the like, along with scarred, muddy trails and bogs in environmentally sensitive areas.

The photos in the booklet, Peters argued, would be better suited to the 1980s, when fewer people had machines and most were less powerful.

Now there are more than 5,000 of the machines in the territory, Peters said.

He went on to take issue with the wording in the discussion paper.

He pointed out there are a number of other jurisdictions that have implemented regulations and plans to protect sensitive wilderness areas.

“We’re not working in a vacuum here,” he said, noting the government’s proposal for complaint-driven enforcement of any regulations that might come into effect.

“Damage first, manage later,” as Peters described it.

No action would be taken until the damage is done, he said, raising the possibility that irresponsible ATV riders will just move on to other areas that might be torn up and scarred.

It is also difficult to enforce any regulations without a registration system in place, the TOYA members said.

Territorial officials have already stated they’re not pursuing registration of the vehicles, the trio noted.

While it’s been argued that charges could still be laid against an individual by identifying their clothing and ATV, Taylor was quick to counter that argument.

He stated he has trouble believing a judge would hear a case where the accused was identified based on the fact he or she had a yellow ATV and was wearing a blue jacket, for example.

When a licence plate number is attached, it makes it easier for campers, hunters or others who might be in the bush and spot an ORV breaking any rules to report the incident and for authorities to track down the owner or rider.

A recent case in Calgary saw successful convictions for a group of riders breaking regulations who were spotted and the licence plates reported by a camper in the area, it was pointed out.

As the TOYA members stressed, the group is not against ORVs (and many members have their own machines they often use). It’s simply pursuing responsible use that protects sensitive areas.

“I want to be able to look beyond my handle bars into the future,” Peters said.

It appears a number of Yukoners agree.

TOYA members acknowledged their survey is not a scientific representation of the population.

However, the group provided the results it received from 217 responses to a list of nine questions asked at this month’s Lions trade show.

Among the responses: 94.5 per cent agreed, 1.8 per cent disagreed and 3.7 per cent didn’t provide a clear response on whether ATVs need to be managed in the territory’s wilderness.

As well, 79.3 per cent agreed, 15.2 per cent disagreed and 5.5 per cent didn’t have a clear answer on whether ATVs should be licensed and registered for enforcements.

As it stands, residents have until June 22 to provide input to the government on the matter and can do so through the territorial Department of Energy, Mines and Resources site (www.emr.gov.yk.ca).

As Peters warned though, the process to fill out the questionnaire is convoluted.

It requires respondents like himself to download documents in one format, reply in another and then either print off the paper work to mail in or attach it to an email.

“It should be easier,” Peters argued.

Another group drawing attention to the consultation is the Yukon 4X4 & ATV Users Against Aspects of YTG Off-Road Vehicle Legislation, a Facebook group which lists 191 members.

Much of the discussion on the group’s page argues against legislation for off-road vehicle users – though also states it does not support destruction of sensitive areas.

It takes issue with TOYA’s argument that most Yukoners want restrictions imposed.

It goes on to encourage everyone interested to provide input to the territory through the consultation process.

Comments (21)

Up 0 Down 2

Josey Wales on May 21, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Hmm...I can understand the most recent edit, or most of it.
but when this is removed..." it starts with an idea, a stupid seed planted grows into crops of pandering yields or fields of stupid.

TOYA and their "ideas" imo are as self centric as Gladue.
both of which are (again my opinion) very very good examples of how stupid gets outta control.
Around here...is very much has.
Was my correlation apparently too abstract?

Up 0 Down 5

Josey Wales on May 20, 2015 at 10:40 pm

holy...I know ORV use and (the other...ssshhh) are not connected.

OK warriors...Gladue, what is it? Apparently what I've referenced HEAPS...

"If you have been charged with a crime and are an Aboriginal person, there are special cultural considerations that the court must take into account in assessing your case. This applies to all Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including status and non-status Indian, Inuit, and Métis and whether living on or off reserve.

What this means is that, as an Aboriginal offender, a restorative justice process may be more appropriate for you. Such processes focus on healing those affected by the criminal act, including the offender, and so are more in line with traditional Aboriginal justice. Also, a restorative justice approach will often allow for a solution with no jail time, which helps reduce the drastic over-representation of Aboriginals in Canadian jails.

Section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code, as well as the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Gladue, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 688 have stated that Judges should account for these considerations when making sentencing decisions. Gladue asks judges to apply a method of analysis that recognizes the adverse background cultural impact factors that many Aboriginals face. In a Gladue analysis these factors, if present in their personal history, work to mitigate or reduce the culpability of offenders. Judges are then asked to consider all reasonable alternatives to jail in light of this. Such an analysis, then, is more likely to lead to a restorative justice remedy being used either in place of a jail sentence or combined with a reduced term. "

...is different from what you been beating?
seems pretty clear to me the asinine nature of such a racist law amongst a country FULL of folks coming from hell holes in history and in recent times is THE best example of the Crusade and everything wrong with revisionist history.

Up 7 Down 1

Groucho d'North on May 19, 2015 at 6:24 pm

To register off road vehicles for the benefit of accurate violations reporting?
Seems like a good idea, except the process to report an ATV violator and bring them to Justice for scaring the land has yet to be determined. For example:
• Who is able to report a violation of these regulations?
• What evidence will be required for proof of the violation?
• Who will be responsible to provide that evidence?
• How will the evidence be verified and by whom?
• What will not be admissible? And why?

I’m getting the feeling that having plates on an ATV is way down the list of things to do before these regulations can be put into force. Will a photograph of somebody tearing up some moss on a hillside qualify as evidence of a violation? What exactly will be a violation and I expect there will need to be standards too, because even moose leave tracks. Will the plate need to be legible and be seen in the pic showing the violation? Or will somebody need to swear an affidavit to witnessing a violation?
What will a violation entail? As Mr. Peters says, “No action would be taken until the damage is done.” That hardly seems like an adequate way to protect the sensitive environment which is what this is ultimately all about. How about spilled gasoline when refueling in the bush- will that be a violation, and more to the point, how would one validate such a report of damage? I’m hoping sensibility comes into view and soon. Clear guidelines on what is an offense, and a process which is simple to determine, enforce and measure for success. Also important I think is not to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to net a $500 fine from a conviction.
Perhaps we should all slow down a bit and learn from other places in Canada and the world where these regulations have been put into force and what they have learned in trying to enforce them. The goal is to protect the allegedly fragile ecosystems. It should begin with education followed by clear and pointed consequences for those who choose to violate the law, but let’s have a law that is practical, easy to enforce and is not a financial money-maker first and enforcement tool second.

Up 25 Down 1

All provinces in Canada have millions of klms of trails on May 19, 2015 at 3:25 pm

All provinces in Canada have millions of klms of trials. They are created by resource, development, forestry, tourism, fishing, hunting etc.
The Yukon has very little in trails because of the lack of opportunity. We need more and more trails so we can enjoy the back country of the Yukon.
Less than one percent of the Yukon is open for anything in the way of access. Open access improves the use of the land for the good of all.
This group does not want the Yukon opened up.
People of the Yukon look after the Yukon. We are not a group of mad people destroying the land.
I have been all over 2/3 of the Yukon and we are missing out on its beauty which is there for all.
How many Yukoners have seen a ice field in the Yukon other KU park.
Go up on the north canal and you will see one.
I have camped across from it many times. Isisie G.

Up 13 Down 3

Wake up on May 19, 2015 at 2:30 pm

***Josey Wales***
ATV laws have nothing to do with Gladue. Do you even know what R vs Gladue means? Read up on it. It might help your upcoming blogs.

Up 14 Down 3

Home and Native Land on May 19, 2015 at 1:07 pm

JW, I thought we agreed you were going to get a job and do something productive with your life, instead of spreading hate, generalizations.
If we could regulate stupid I suspect certain trolls would be banned from commenting.

Up 4 Down 17

Stan Collins on May 19, 2015 at 12:50 pm

I have seen the mess created by ORVs around town. Nice walking trails torn up and signs ignored and often destroyed.
It seems like it's more than entitlement. When routes are designated they are ignored and there seems to be pleasure and anger in tearing up the ground and taking signs down.

Yes, we need plates and registration. My contention is that the people who are destructive with their ORVs is far more than a few individuals.

Up 11 Down 22

north_of_60 on May 18, 2015 at 1:03 pm

@PSG

Without license tags there is no way to identify those who ignore regulations and tear up the environment. That's why all other motor vehicles have tags. Got it now?

It appears your objection is cost, so if the registration fee is nominal like $5 or free, then you don't have a problem?
Why would you object if it helps to catch criminals violating regulations?

Up 9 Down 16

Josey Wales on May 17, 2015 at 10:03 am

Home and migrated too land...."You cannot regulate "stupid"."
To that I'd agree. We can however legislate stupid and do via things as Gladue.

This topic like many others is merely a weapon of mass distraction, keep the lemmings fighting with each other whilst real issues are glossed over, never discussed or as I stated...legislating some MORE stupid.

Up 23 Down 6

ProScience Greenie on May 17, 2015 at 9:14 am

Not hiding anything north_of_60. We simply see no need for plates and registration and paying more money into the government coffers because there are a few yahoos out there messing things up. Plus most see it as nothing more than a cash grab that will do little or nothing to solve the problem.

Speaking of regular vehicle licence plates and registration why is it we have to re-register each year? Why not just once when you purchase a vehicle and then the new owner does the same if you sell it to them. That is because it has become a yearly cash grab. Let's not do the same with our OVRs.

Up 30 Down 0

Northern wonder on May 16, 2015 at 3:30 pm

These stats are very biased and might NOT be representative of Yukon as a whole. First of all, conducting a survey from your trade show booth is only going to survey a select niche of people (your friends). I for one (someone who knows the industry and ATV's myself) did not even know about this survey. I also do not feel comfortable vocalizing my points in person because of the outspoken attacks (yes I said attacks) by what I view as a VERY radical group of people.
Yes, there are sensitive areas in the Yukon however, most people do not trash or deface the natural state of the environment. Even if you legislated the heck out of ATV use, these individuals will STILL do the damage - with no license plate or registration (your court case will not stand up with no plate – also Photoshop does not work….
Realistically, all you are doing is creating more barriers for individuals who will abide by the rules. Therefore, less individuals will want to even purchase ATV’s (in an already shrinking market – look it up). This also makes it more difficult on the 4 businesses in Whitehorse.
Finally, who will enforce all of the rules that TOYA wishes to pass? Is there going to be a TOYA activist monitoring the ENTIRETY of the Yukon? Do you know how much it costs to hire and maintain someone to do this?
My two cents….

Up 11 Down 14

north_of_60 on May 15, 2015 at 9:32 pm

"It is also difficult to enforce any regulations without a registration system in place, .... Territorial officials have already stated they’re not pursuing registration of the vehicles, "

Without registration and license plates, all the regulations in the world are nothing more than hollow appeasement, and clearly prove that the government does not take this matter seriously. If those who violate regulations can be identified then the regulations can be enforced, otherwise it's meaningless. Responsible, law abiding ORV owners should have no objection to vehicle tags. What are those who object with thumbs down trying to hide?

I mostly use my ATV as a small tractor, nonetheless it's been licensed and insured since it was new. That's just being responsible. The govt could offer to register all old ATVs for $5, and $10 for new ones at point of sale. All other motorized vehicles are registered. If you don't think license tags are necessary, what do you think would happen if the govt removed all license tags from vehicles?

Up 15 Down 0

YPV on May 15, 2015 at 6:41 pm

Educating only works for people that want to be educated. No matter what the outcome of this legislation there will still be those who don't care and will do what they want. All we can hope that it will not ruin it for the average ATV user that just wants to get out and enjoy the trails.

Up 22 Down 1

Home and Native Land on May 15, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Yes totally agree with Pro Science Greenie on this one! The government (all levels) need to make people aware of the issues, impact, etc.
You cannot regulate "stupid".

Up 22 Down 1

Hooray for pro-science greenie on May 15, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Well said pro-science greenie. The vast majority of ORV users are responsible, but we will all suffer because of a few yahoos. What's next, we'll ban placer mining - have you seen the damage that does!

Up 30 Down 6

Preston griffiths on May 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Yukon 4X4 & ATV Users Against Aspects of YTG Off-Road Vehicle Legislation

We Stand for all Existing trails to be Grandfathered in with no restrictions while using the trails that already exist, within a real world buffer of those existing trails width. Regardless of that existing trails elevation or Muddy conditions etc. etc.

If the Government starts to block off trails and limit access all it will do is completely backfire because you will not be able to stop people from accessing those areas 100% of the time.
What will happen is people will start to cut new trails and roads to bypass the area where the gate or restriction is and enter those restricted areas via new trail or across the open tundra or wetlands, ultimately restriction and gates will over time lead to even more trail expansion and creation for this simple fact!
As soon as you Block the existing trails off, put limitations and signage, people will look to other avenues to access those areas via routes where there was not a trail or road before, I don't support these actions but it will become a reality. It is human nature to want to do something simply for that fact you have been told you can't.

Education is Key! Not Blanket Trail Regulations and Trail Restrictions based on a few bad people, bad choices, while Off-Roading.

As one of our members so clearly put it: "We need to protect the land from a few yahoos, including the extremist environmentalists"

There is much talk of ATV's but this a an ORV's consultation, which includes, trucks, jeeps, land cruisers etc. Which could be potentially targeted and restricted from use, even though they are the users who already have Licence plates and registration in must cases. It is unfair to target or restrict these users from off road trail use, as long as they're not cutting down trees to gain access.

Please Join Us Facebook

Yukon 4X4 & ATV Users Against Aspects of YTG Off-Road Vehicle Legislation

Up 11 Down 31

Georgia Greetham on May 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm

The Yukon is a fragile landscape, highly vulnerable to erosion, desertification, and biodiversity loss, caused by trails development, and impediments to watersheds, wetlands, as well as sensitive alpine areas. Noise is equally a factor contributing to stressers on wildlife and declining birthrates. ORV's may be less of a problem than seismic testing or mining or other resource extraction activities, but it is still a significant contributor to the cumulative impacts affecting Yukon's biodiversity. True, a few people can ruin it for everyone, and it's those few people that we need to educate and curb behaviors by peer pressure, by riding responsibly and with care and concern for the environment and wildlife that we are all impacting with our encroachments on their habitat. We all need to self-manage the best we can because, as usual, the governments response will be too little, too late. It's a big territory, worthy of our respect.

Up 34 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on May 15, 2015 at 10:18 am

If it ain't broke don't fix it. Nobody I know wants to register and plate their ATVs. As far as ripping up the land goes, education and signage and unchaining govt. field staff from their desks and getting them out there on the trail would help a lot. The hunting and fishing regs could be tweaked to curb ATV use in certain areas. So tired of all these 'squeaky wheel gets the grease' types trying to promote this or that agenda usually with exaggerated claims of majority support.

There's also the fact that many of us use our ATVs like little tractors, more for work than play. Stop lumping us in with the small number of yahoos out there causing the problems.

Up 11 Down 46

Stu Summer on May 15, 2015 at 9:47 am

TOYA is the voice of reason.

ATVs are destroying sensitive habitat and many operators have no ethics and these people will only react when enforcement catches them.

Travel to Newfoundland and you will see many ATVs but local communities ban them from trails around towns to ensure protection for what they have. Whitehorse is the opposite, the city is pandering to lobby groups and allowing nice trails to be torn up and the enjoyment people who walk used to have is rapidly being eroded. Enforcement around town cannot keep up!

In the Yukon as with roadside bear hunting progressive long term planning for ATVs may be delayed because of the old boys club. I wish the Yukon Fish and Game Association would become more progressive with ATV legislation and the protection of animals (i.e. bears) feeding peacefully along highways.

Up 7 Down 10

north_of_60 on May 14, 2015 at 8:55 pm

"It is also difficult to enforce any regulations without a registration system in place, the TOYA members said.

Territorial officials have already stated they’re not pursuing registration of the vehicles, the trio noted."
Without registration and license plates, all the regulations in the world are nothing more than hollow appeasement, and clearly prove that the government does not take this matter seriously.

Up 24 Down 6

Salar on May 14, 2015 at 5:44 pm

They're back......Gods cousins......ORV's (Old Retired Venerables) will they save the Yukon from us? Only time will tell....perhaps Phillip will shoot a few tires out to keep folks out of his favourite areas....I recall he is a good shot....the rest will keep the smoke screen thick.

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