Off-Road Vehicle Management Framework


The Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Management Framework was launched in 2009, with the goal of establishing comprehensive rules for off-road vehicle use in British Columbia. The Framework was developed in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders.

The ORV Management Framework helped lend direction to a number of amendments to B.C. laws. This culminated on March 24, 2014 when Bill 13, the Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Act, received Royal Assent. The ORV Act promises certainty, safety and regulatory structure for thousands of off-road enthusiasts.

The ORV Act replaces the 40-year-old Motor Vehicle (All Terrain) Act with a modern management structure, designed to align with existing regulatory regimes at minimal cost. It provides specific rules governing British Columbia’s growing off-road sector, and helps ensure these vehicles are driven in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. For more details, please refer to the following news release.

Along with other key legislation, including the Motor Vehicle Act, and the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Off-Road Vehicle Act is essential to the effective implementation of the ORV Management Framework.

Key components of the ORV Management Framework include:

  • Expanded definition of ORVs:
    • ORV laws apply to a wide range of vehicles operated on Crown land and other public lands.
    • ORVs are used for work, leisure and commuting purposes and include snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (aka “Quads”), off-road motorcycles (i.e. dirt bikes) and side-by-sides (e.g. “Argos”, “Rhinos” and “Razors”).
  • Registration:
    • Effective November 17, 2014, off-road vehicle owners can obtain a one-time registration for off-road vehicles that is integrated within the pre-existing structure of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (ICBC) motor vehicle registry. For more details, please refer to the following news release.
    • To provide plenty of notice and allow for a smooth transition, the new registration system is currently voluntary for operation on Crown land, but will become mandatory on June 1, 2015.
    • Registration under the ORV Act has been aligned with the Motor Vehicle Act to help keep costs low for the systems upgrade.
    • The registration fee is one-time and user-pay; it will be $48 for an ORV owner to register their ORV and the same applies for subsequent transfers of ownership.
    • The improved ORV registration scheme, along with a visible number plate, will better assist officers in identifying irresponsible ORV riders, help track down stolen ORVs and assists in search and rescue efforts in finding lost or injured riders.
    • Implementation of the new registration system will be implemented by ICBC and over 900 brokers across BC. To find a broker near you, visit the ICBC web site.
    • As with other vehicles, proof of ownership and payment of applicable taxes must be provided at time of registration.
    • For detailed information on Provincial Sales Tax see the Ministry of Finance notice located at: http://www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/documents_library/notices/notice_2013-011.pdf
  • Safety:
    • The Off-Road Vehicle Act requires all ORV riders to wear a safety helmet and use lights for low-visibility conditions. Regulations defining specific helmet and light design for individual types of vehicles will be defined in regulations to follow in June 2015, coinciding with the onset of mandatory registration. Other regulations for additional safety measures are being developed in consultation with key stakeholder associations. Measures will include:
      • Seatbelts will be required to be worn, where installed by the manufacturer. For example, on side-by-side vehicles such as utility terrain vehicles.
      • Measures to better protect youth, including mandatory adult supervision, and appropriately-sized machines for age and weight of youth operators.
    • By June 2015 at the earliest, the safety provisions will apply to snowmobiles, ATVs, off-road motorcycles and utility terrain vehicles.
  • Compliance and Enforcement:
    • The Off-Road Vehicle Act provides improved enforcement tools to better assist officers in addressing irresponsible ORV riders that endanger others, harm animals or damage sensitive habitat such as grasslands and wetlands.
    • The Off-Road Vehicle Act also gives officers the ability to stop, inspect and, where appropriate, seize ORVs for safety or evidence purposes. The maximum fine for offences has increased from $500 to up to $5,000.
    • A key element of the ORV Management Framework is the provincial approach to compliance and enforcement that is underway with the broader resource management sector.
  • Public Road/Highway Crossings:
    • All ORVs used for work, leisure or commuting purposes will be able to safely and more conveniently cross or traverse portions of public roads and highways at designated locations. Recent updates in support of the Off-Road Vehicle Framework include:
      •  Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (July 2014): effective November 17 will allow off-road vehicle operators greater access to highways, including the ability to:
        • Cross a highway without having to obtain an operation permit if the crossing is controlled by a stop sign or traffic light.
        • Travel on any highway anywhere local police authorize within the limits set out in an operation permit.
        • Load or unload in a parking lot without an operation permit.
        • Obtain an operation permit with an extended term of up to two years.
        • All other Motor Vehicle Act requirements on highways have not changed. When in doubt, ORV operators should contact local law enforcement to inquire about whether an operation permit is required.
    • Amendments to the Forest Service Road Use Regulation (October 2012): a snowmobile operator may cross a ploughed Forest Service Road if they have a valid driver’s license, $200,000 third party liability insurance, and both the driver and passenger must wear a helmet. In addition, the snowmobile operator must yield the right of way to other traffic, exercise due care and attention and take reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons using the Forest Service Road.
    • Improved road/highway crossings continue to be implemented in stages. These crossings will connect our rural communities and support a world-class ORV trail network.
  • Environment:
    • The Forest and Range Practices Act and Forest Practices and Planning Regulation were amended in 2007 to add penalties for irresponsible ORV operators that damage sensitive habitat.
    • All ORVs are required to have spark arrestors to meet requirements under Wildfire Act regulations.
  • Implementation:
    • The details of use and safety standards are prescribed by regulation under the ORV Act and is targeted for implementation in 2015. Final decisions on these aspects of the legislation have not been made. The Province continues to consult with over 20 provincial stakeholders, such as the BC Wildlife Federation, ATV BC, UBCM,the BC Snowmobile Federation and the Canadian Off Highway Vehicle Distributers Council, on the details to ensure we get it right.  

Media Releases

Media Contacts

Greig Bethel
Media Relations
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Phone: 250 356-5261
Email:  Greig.Bethel@gov.bc.ca