The new version of the Act respecting off-highway vehicles not only ensures better safety for users, but also settles once and for all the issue of the sustainability of trails in Quebec.
It should be remembered that the last reform of the law dates back to 2010. Bill 71 was adopted unanimously on December 9 and will come into force on December 30.
“The vast majority of the articles of the law will come into force,” explains Michel Garneau of the Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec. The other articles will come into force a little later, with the return of the parliamentary session. So, as of December 30, the patrollers of the federation as well as the members of the various police forces will be able to issue tickets. Currently, all that remains is the legal certification process to complete so that all the administrative data is in the machine. This will allow the patrollers and peace officers to issue the findings, having in hand the codification of various breaches of the law that will be punished.
It is certain that with the current conditions for the majority of the regions, the season has not yet started.
“It’s not very encouraging as the start of the season, but, like everyone else, we are spectators in the business, waiting for Mother Nature to provide us with the necessary conditions”, explained the expert.
Protection of trails and novelties
In the case of the sustainability of the trails, the arrival of this new law once and for all ends the threat to the survival of the trails.
“The VRH trail networks were continually under the threat of class action lawsuits, based on nuisance since the famous judgment in the case of the Petit Train du Nord in 2004, explains the expert. In the following years, the government of Quebec had to invoke special protection against these remedies, in order to protect the entire network of trails. The last government intervention took place in the fall of 2019. The new law addresses this issue once and for all. “
In addition to the measures already known under the old version of the law, now many elements have been added.
“They aim to improve the safety of the practice of snowmobile and quads activities, in addition to promoting harmonious coexistence between the recreational use of these vehicles and other users of the territory. “
We can cite as an example the fact that a driver’s license is compulsory to drive on public land or on trails. However, there is an exception for those under 18, subject to special conditions, to allow them to drive an ORV without a license, on certain private lands.
WE CAN ADD :
- the obligation to drive safely and not to endanger other trail users;
- the prohibition to travel on paths with other vocation;
- the obligation to adjust speed according to conditions;
- the obligation not to inconvenience other users or neighbors of the premises;
- the ban on driving a vehicle that produces excessive noise;
- the prohibition to modify or remove the exhaust system of a vehicle.
These are just a few examples of the new provisions contained in the law.
To this must be added the regulations governing excessive speed and the implementation of a demerit point system for speeding violations. Finally, we must not forget the new requirements to hold a driver’s license as well as training for professional guides, and the obligations for people who will rent a vehicle.
- Despite the fact that there will be no American tourists and others on the trails this winter, the pre-sale of access rights has reached the same level as last year, a record season. This therefore means that the increase in sales has resulted in new followers from Quebec on the trails. Also, several enthusiasts said they wanted to wait for the season to take place and for the trail network to be accessible before purchasing their rights. This means that in the end, the number of access rights sold for the season in Quebec risks reaching a peak never seen in the past.
- In his interview, Michel Garneau reminded us that even if we have a new law that is more severe, we must not forget that the future of the snowmobile world in Quebec is in the hands of the snowmobilers themselves. He explained that everyone must behave responsibly, both on and off the trails.
- For the first time in nearly 40 years, snowmobile racing and thrill seekers will be deprived of the Grand Prix de Valcourt. Despite all the efforts made to reach an agreement with the Eastern Townships Regional Public Health Department, law enforcement agencies and partners, the evolution of the pandemic got the better of the event. It was a very difficult decision for the organizers to make.