Dirt Bikes, ATVs, problematic in Canal Flats

Canal Flats council had some interesting topics to discuss last council. Among them, ATV and Dirt Bike regulations.

Corporal Grant Simpson was on hand at Council last week to provide councilors with a Quarterly Report for the RCMP Invermere Detachment.

He told councilors that there had been a slight increase in the amount of service calls specific to Canal Flats—49 this year in comparison to 28 the year before—but were mostly related to a specific domestic incident that increased the total number of calls.

While in attendance, it was mentioned from a citizen of Canal Flats that there had recently been a problem in the number of dirt bikers and ATV riders unlawfully riding their motor vehicles around the Village and disrupting people’s personal privacy.

Councilor Paul Marcil inquired into the legality of driving unlicensed dirt bikes and ATVs as vehicles on maintained roads with regards to insurance to Cpl. Simpson. The answer was an unequivocal no that these vehicles are not allowed on any maintained roads and that the fines for using these vehicles on roads without insurance and a license can be upwards of $500.

To use the vehicles on maintained roads, Simpson continued, the drivers must be insured with their vehicles conforming to the Motor Vehicle Act.

Council also had a presentation from Greg Dubois from Summit Valley Contracting, which dealt with the Interface Fire Protection for the area. Dubois presented a detailed update on the community’s wildfire protection plan with a map of endangered areas that are more problematic for Canal Flats.

Columbia Lake Provincial Park

Councilor Marie Delorme mentioned to council that there is a growing concern for developments to access points on the Columbia Lake besides the boat launch located in Canal Flats. She said that any change to access points, through the increase of other boat launches, have to be monitored closely by Canal Flats council.

“Columbia Lake could be a big economic driver for us or we could lose that driver if there’s another access,” she said during council.

Several changes to access were noted in the meeting that includes the Columbia Lake Provincial Park’s investigation into creating another boat launch in addition to Fairmont’s official community plan who held an open house to determine if another boat launch were needed on the North side of the lake.

Councilor Karl Sterzer said that this new need for alternative access points to the Lake stems from the false perception that boat launching fees in Canal Flats for their launch at James Tilley Memorial Park are exorbitantly higher for non-residents than for residents.

“What’s not known by people is that this is not a provincial park and in fact that all the things that go on at that beach (Tilley Memorial Park) come out of tax payers taxes here in the Village of Canal Flats,” he said. “For that to go unchecked, I think is not responsible.”

Council motioned to send a letter to the RDEK and BC Parks for clarification on where they’re at in terms of creating more access points and environmental assessment around them to stay informed on the process.

New stop signs coming

In a split decision, council also elected to install two new stop signs at the intersection of Grainger Road and Richard Crescent, creating a three-way stop at the intersection, due to the increase of both traffic and speed in the surrounding areas.

At first, council was divided on the issue with councilor Delorme in opposition and Mayor Ute Juras supporting the idea. Juras cited the safety of pedestrians on bikes and walking as strong reasons for creating implementing two new signs in the area. During deliberation, they had also considered using yield signs instead but abandoned the idea during discussion.

In the end, Marcil proposed a one-year trial run with the two stop signs, noting that traffic in that area is typically only busy during two months of the year and could be more of a nuisance in the low-traffic months with little to no one around the area.

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