Jeff Mohr

Quads need licence plates starting Nov. 1

Licence for off-road vehicles including dirt bikes and snowmobiles costs $48, penalties for reckless use also going up

The B.C. government is making licence plates mandatory for quads, dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles starting Nov. 1, requiring helmets and restricting use by children under 16.

The B.C. legislation imposes a $230 fine for driving an unlicensed off-road vehicle, and a $368 fine for careless operation. For some offences under the Off-Road Vehicle Act related to reckless use or environmental damage, penalties can go as high as a $5,000 fine and six months in jail.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson said the $48 licence fee applies only once when a vehicle is purchased, and was set to recover the costs of the program administered by ICBC. Once startup costs are paid for, a portion of the licence revenue will go to off-road clubs to use for trail improvements, Thomson said.

The province estimates there are 200,000 off-road vehicles that require licensing, including snowmobiles that have been licensed since the 1970s. About 35,000 of those have registered voluntarily since the new licences were offered a year ago.

Jeff Mohr, past president of the Quad Riders Association of B.C., said his members are most of the voluntary registrants so far, and they are pleased B.C. has a system to control the few users who ride recklessly or damage the environment.

“We want to get more people out on the trails, sharing and enjoying the outdoors,” Mohr said.

The licence system also allows police to track stolen vehicles, even if they are taken out of the province. B.C. is the last Canadian province to implement a licensing system.

The Quad Riders and B.C.’s 72 snowmobile clubs are prepared to publicize the new regulations to their members, and Thomson said they will act as “eyes and ears” for conservation and natural resource enforcement officers.