Province gives green light to modified golf carts

The BC government is kick-starting a pilot program to allow modified golf carts on municipal roads in two small communities.

Sometimes owning and driving a car can be expensive and burdensome for people who are simply looking to run daily errands, making it from point A to point B in the community.

Thankfully for them, the province of British Columbia has announcing it is giving the green light to a new pilot project that will allow golf carts to operate on certain local roads in Chase and Qualicum Beach, providing drivers with more transportation options.

“This change makes it easier for people, particularly seniors, to stay engaged in the community and access the services that make their lives better,” Premier Christy Clark said in a press release. “By allowing these lower emission vehicles on local streets, we are connecting British Columbians with their families and friends and improving not only their health, but the quality of their lives.”

The change comes into effect in September when residents of the two communities will be able to purchase golf cart insurance and obtain a permit from their local governments. The Prpvince indicated it had received a number of requests to allow golf carts on roads in small communities, which fostered the idea of starting the pilot program. The program will run for a period of one to two years, providing the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the participating communities with how and where it can be rolled out in other parts of the province.

“This project will improve the lives of British Columbians,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone. “This is not for everyone and not for every community, but for communities like Qualicum Beach and Chase, it makes good sense for their citizens.”

Throughout the Columbia Valley, there is a cadre of potential communities where this program could be expanded to if successful beyond the pilot program. The population of Qualicum Beach, according to the 2011 census, stands at 8,687, with Chase at a more comparable 2,495 to communities like Invermere with a population of 2,955.

Invermere mayor Gerry Taft said that the district has already had a number of requests and inquiries into whether golf carts would be permitted in Invermere the pilot program will be a key decision maker.

“I think in general terms the pilot (program) is a good idea, and I think, as we see increased aging in our population and increased awareness around concerns over potential increased costs with traditional gas vehicles, this is a natural and logical alternative, which hopefully will come to Invermere sooner rather than later,” Taft said in an email.

Golf cart drivers will need to follow specific regulations such as driving only on municipal roads with a maximum speed limit of 30 km/h during daylight hours. They will be mandated to be registered and insured with seat belts, a horn, lights, signals and a rearview mirror. Drivers, like conventional vehicles, will also be required to have a valid driver’s licence.

This pilot program is part of B.C. on the Move, the government’s 10-year transportation plan committed to explore opportunities to allow drivers more choices to use slow-moving vehicles in smaller communities. With more programs like this, the goal is to have more accessible transportation options in B.C. by 2024.