Submitted by Cpl. Brent Ayers
Columbia Valley RCMP
The Columbia Valley Detachment responds every year to complaints involving recreational vehicles, including snowmobiles. Complaints vary from year to year and we thought we would send out the following information just as a reminder.
All snowmobiles in the province of British Columbia are required to be registered under the Motor Vehicle (All-Terrain) Act. This has been a requirement since the early 1970s. At the time of registration, the owner of the snowmobile must place the two yellow decals on either side of the tunnel. These decals are not transferable from machine to machine.
A copy of the registration must be on the machine at all times. Failure to provide proof of registration or failure to provide the supporting documents are separate ticket-able offences. If your snowmobile has never been registered before, has been modified with an aftermarket tunnel, or is from out of province, a mandatory check of your motor and chassis serial numbers are required for registration.
The Columbia Valley Detachment, or any detachment, can assist with this, time permitting. Take note that if you have just recently bought a new snowmobile, it is advisable that you write down the serial numbers of your motor as it will be different from the one on your chassis.
If your snowmobile is stolen, the chances of finding it increase by 50 per cent if you also provide the motor serial number. Rotax of Austria supply engines to Bombardier, Fuji supply Polaris, and Suzuki power Arctic Cat. Yamaha supplies its own engines; however, the serial numbers have been different since the early 1990s.
Registration is affordable and is for the life of the snowmobile. However, keep in mind that the province will want the sales tax and that is all dependent on what price was paid for the snowmobile. I guess this is the price we pay to ride in Beautiful British Columbia!
All registered snowmobiles are allowed to utilize non maintained Forest Service Roads without I.C.B.C. Insurance. The maximum speed limit for a snowmobile on a non-maintained forest service road is 80 kilometres per hour. Once a grader makes a swipe of the road it becomes maintained. If you wish to use the snowmobile on a public road, even just to cross, by law you need to have your machine licensed and insured just like a car.
Third-party liability insurance is available from your I.C.B.C. broker. Once insured, you then need to obtain a permit from your local RCMP which will outline where you can cross or utilize a roadway. For the most part in the Columbia Valley this may not be granted or feasible depending on the community, traffic volume, or lack of snow!
In theory, ditch riding is prohibited, as liability insurance is required within 30 metres from the center of roadway. Insurance obtained through the B.C. Snowmobile Federation or obtained privately is liability insurance for off-road use only. The insurance is void once the operator drives on or crosses a public road.
For driving on a non-maintained forest service road including public roads and Crown land, the snowmobile must be in good mechanical condition with an operative headlight, rear light, and working brakes. There is no enforceable helmet law while riding on Crown land, but riders are only tempting fate by deciding not to wear one.
Those who wish to mix recreational riding with recreational drugs including alcohol be advised that the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits the impaired operation of any motor vehicle including snowmobiles on any public road or public access area, including the backcountry or frozen lakes. Every year this detachment responds to incidents involving snowmobiles where alcohol was the contributing factor to decision-making. It fogs the experienced riders judgement.
If you are planning a backcountry adventure, plan and be prepared. An avalanche beacon, probe, shovel, warm clothing, survival kit, first-aid kit, and basic tool kit should be all considered. Leave an itinerary with someone, and dont go alone. Never rely on other people to bail you out. Ride within your limits and ride with respect to the area you are riding in.
Join your local snowmobile club. You will be amazed with the people and wealth of experience that the club has to offer. The Windermere Valley Snowmobile Society is this areas local organized club.
If you ride, or have a family member who rides please take the time to become informed. The Columbia Valley Detachment has snowmobiles and all members of this detachment, including traffic members, are trained operators. Time permitting, enforcement patrols will be made in many of the snowmobiling areas.
Ultimately, snowmobiling is fun. We want you to have fun: safe fun! If you have any questions or concerns with regard to snowmobiles, you can contact the Columbia Valley detachment and speak with any member of this detachment including me, Cpl. Brent Ayers.