The Manitoba Government passed third Reading on Bill 8 the Off-Roads Trails Safety Maintenance Act on May 16.
Gary Hora, President of the ATV MB says, the Bill was proposed back in November of 2022 on behalf of the ATV MB and SnoMan associations.
“The then Minister Wharton proposed the bill, and it went through first reading and then as the process goes, it goes to second reading, committee and then it goes to third reading, which it has passed, which is great news for both ATV MB and Snoman for sustainable funding.”
Organizations like Snowmobilers of Manitoba Inc. (Snoman) and the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Manitoba (ATVMB) manage the province's off-road vehicles (ORV) trail networks. They make sure Manitobans and visitors have access to safe, high-quality ORV recreation experiences. At the time, Minister Jeff Wharton said that Act includes a $25 annual fee for registered ORV's to make sure that organizations have access to sufficient, sustainable resources for initiatives.
Hora explains what Bill 8 means for their organizations.
“It gives well-needed funding that we've needed for many years on our end, for ATVMB, to help our clubs grow and develop more trails, more trail systems, and manage existing trails that we currently have.”
Hora says they have also been wanting to provide much-needed rider safety education.
“We really want to have a safety program in place for our youth, and funding is always going to be the challenge to get any of those projects off the ground.”
He says the next step for Bill 8 is to go through a consultation process.
“From there, that's where they'll work out the details of the implementation of the funds, it's a user pay system. Then after that's been worked out through with the governments, they'll look at the distribution of funds. So, it's still going to be approximately a year before each ATVMB would see any funding. Only then will we be able to get it to our clubs and to future new clubs, so they have monies to develop their trails and get safety programs off the ground. But it's a big step.”
Hora notes the start of this process is more like nine years ago.
“The first real proposal was actually in 2019. So, it’s taken four years just to even get to this point almost five years in total, but it's a long process. Definitely a long process.”
Hora notes that Manitoba Conservation has added a temporary funding line in their budget to help out these ORV organizations while they wait for consultation and implementation of those funds.
"This will help get our safety program going, as well, it will help our current clubs right now, do more trail maintenance and development. It's a small amount that they were willing to budget in there, but it will help us get through this next season."
Hora is most passionate about getting the safety programs for under 16-year-olds started.
“We have a lot of communities asking for it. In fact, a lot of our northern communities have been asking for years. “Do you have people that can come and do a training program with our youth, and we just don't have the money to get that off the ground?” You know, so it's going to be good all the way around."
Hora says he's been with ATV MB for 14 years, and president for four.
"I just got re-elected this year, so this will be my last term, but I want to see Bill 8 through and then, you know my goal is to keep working with Snoman and have these two associations working side by side for the same user-pay system and same levy to get this bill off the ground."
Though he says, it may still be another year until the bill is fully implemented.
He adds that Snoman has been a good partner. "They've been very supportive of us as we are of them. So, you know, it's really nice to see the snowmobile community and the ATV working together, which has been a great experience."