Motorized off-road vehicles in 707 Community Park

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, May 17 2016

As seen in last week’s Snarls, complaints have been made to the Sounder and the Regional District of Nanaimo about youth riding off-road motorbikes in the 707 Community Park.

Similar complaints were heard this past week about someone doing the same around the edges of the Elder Cedar Grove.

Neither location is open to motorized off-highway vehicle (ORV) use. In fact, the use of bicycles is prohibited in the Elder Cedar Grove.

Cpl. Markus Müntener said there had been no reported incidents of dirt bikes in the designated 707 part area. 

“It is however an offense under the Park, Conservatory and Recreation area Regulations, to operate a motorcycle in a park, unless on the park road or where permitted by sign. Failing to do so can subject the person to a monetary fine of $345.”

Joan Michel, Parks and Trails Coordinator, with the RDN, explained there is no where within the RDN Parks where ORVs are a permitted use.

The only place on Gabriola that she was aware of where it would be legal to use an ORV would be provincial crown lands, where there isn’t already a lease (such as the property leased by the Gabriola Rod, Gun, and Conservation Club).

That being said, in recent years, the BC Government has passed regulations requiring all ORVs to be licensed and carry insurance through ICBC.

Michel also said Gabriola as a whole does not have a major problem with ORVs, comparative to other areas of the RDN.

“We have major issues with unauthorized motorized users in other areas of the RDN. it is quite a nightmare, the damage they do.”

As far as the federal crown land, including the Kensington lands north of North Road, Michel said as far as she knew, those properties were not open to ORV use.

She said people can ride on their own private property, or private property where they have permission to be there.

Changes are coming, where the province is asking local government if they would like to have local government-owned properties (like the RDN Parks) to fall under the same legislation that brought in the licensing requirement.

As Michel said, it wouldn’t open those properties up to ORV use - but it would allow local governments to tap in to the enforcement stream used by the province.

“That brings to bear more people that can enforce.

“The problem is we have a general community out there that is not aware of the basic law. 

“We have parents sending their kids out completely unaware that as soon as they leave their parents’ property they are illegally operating those vehicles. 

“These things are seen as toys, and the illegality that is associated with their use, people are blind to. 

“There is an education campaign sorely needed and it is very frustrating.”

One thing Michel was clear on is that the 707 does not abut on to any provincial crown land - all properties surrounding the 707 Community Park are privately owned.

As such, there is not way, as she explained, for someone to accidentally end up in the 707 on a motorbike, short of riding over someone’s private property.

The assumption being that those property owners adjacent to the 707 are aware of where the boundaries are.

Kerry Marcus, a long-time member of the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT) said there is a piece of provincial crown land at the end of Degnen Road North near her home where motorbikers have gone riding in the past.

Marcus is also a member of the Gabriola horse community.

“There are some dirt bikes out and about down here on the crown land up off Degnen North. I have not met anyone recently with the horse, but we can hear them, often in the early evening. 

“There were tracks this week on the shore side of the Federal lands as well. 

“Provincial crown land is available for recreational use for all, including  horses, dirt bikes and quads. My experience over the years has been mostly good. 

“Often a dirt bike is a bonus over mountain bikes with horses, as you can hear them coming. Mountain bikes can come up quietly and cause a spook, so speaking is always good. 

“Mostly even the kids on dirt bikes pull over and shut the engine off while horses go by. 

“Riders have a responsibility to train their horses to accept trail traffic of all sorts, and we have also stepped off the trail to let bikes quietly go by as well. 

“Successful shared trail use, the best kind, is all about mutual respect and courtesy to other trail users.”