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Noise complaints rise against off-road vehicles on rural areas

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



Complaints against off-road vehicles roaring along forestry roads are rising as more all-terrain vehicle and dirt bike enthusiasts converge on rural areas.

Liberal Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness has increasingly been hearing of the noise and land-use complaints emanating from the Chilliwack River Valley area, where there could be thousands of motorbikes and ATVs on any given day.

Currently, there are 26 “recreational areas” in Greater Vancouver, a vast expanse overseen by just two recreation officers who work with police and conservation officers enforcing off-road rules.

Those rules include having public liability insurance of $200,000 and a driver’s licence.

Lower Mainland rec officer Mike Peters said Monday enforcement on those roads has definitely stepped up in recent years, as municipalities enact bylaws prohibiting the use of traditional urban off-road areas.

“There’s less areas to ride and more riders.”

Throness wrote the Ministry of Forests in October asking for more recreation officers but was turned down due to funding. The ministry, however, did promise hiring for “critical positions” would be reviewed.

Ken Dyck, Fraser Valley Dirt Riders Association vice-president, said the main concerns he hears are when off-road vehicle enthusiasts and others using the trails — such as equestrians or hikers — clash.

He noted the majority of riders respected other trail users but not all.

Victoria, meanwhile, is creating a legislative framework to enhance off-road safety, reduce noise, in addition to adding new trails, among others. 

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