The province is raising fines for those using off-road vehicles in places they deem “sensitive habitats,” and not everyone agrees with the reasoning for that designation.
Effective immediately, the fines for operating off-road vehicles in restricted areas, which includes all BC parks and southern mountain caribou habitats, will face a $575.00 fine.
The province implemented the changes in part as an attempt to protect the endangered caribou, saying that “controlling and limiting access to sensitive habitats by off-road vehicles is the most effective way to protect those areas and wildlife.”
Donegal Wilson, Executive Director of the BC Snowmobile Federation said they do support the increase in fines, however, they don’t necessarily agree with the reasoning behind the closures.
“There was a million hectares closed to recreational snowmobiling from 2006 to 2008, in that time period there has been no improvements in the trajectory of the herds and the actual closure to snowmobiling has had no positive impact.”
According to a news release from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, previous fines were either $230.00 or $345.00, and court convictions could result in fines up to $200,000.
Eamon McArthur, a conservation officer in Prince George, said that the province saw 202 violations between 2013 and 2017, representing about $10,000.
Wilson said they are in the process of doing a new economic study, however in the last one done (about 12 years ago) snowmobiling generated about $398 million in BC.
To access maps on restricted areas, you can follow this link.