Bylaw 925. There’s nothing menacing about such a title, until you find out it’s keeping ATVers from riding on trails in their community. To counter this controversy, Ed Vermette has founded the Princeton ATV club.
“Town Council heard that there was an ATV rendezvous planned for Princeton and immediately put forward a new bylaw banning ATVs completely within town limits,” said Vermette. “This new bylaw would have prevented citizens from starting their off-road vehicles on their own property.”
If that seems ridiculous, you’re not the only one who thinks so. Vermette started a petition, receiving an overwhelming amount of support in the form of nearly 2,000 signatures.
Vermette was met with further support by the community when he presented the signatures to council. Over 200 residents showed up to the council meeting, many with ATVs loaded in their pickups. Council backed down slightly, allowing ATV use on private property, but banned all motorized vehicles on the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) portion of town limits. This remains a huge problem for Princeton as the KVR connects neighbouring communities like Summerland, Brookmere and beyond.
Vermette argues that town council's new bylaw is discriminating and does not address the economic benefits to the community. “I care about my community,” said Vermette. “I cannot sit by idly and watch council make poor decisions that have a negative effect on us all.”
MLA Linda Larsen and MLA Jackie Tagert receiving copy of petition (1934 signatures) to revoke bylaw 925 from Ed Vermette. — Photo courtesy Ed Vermette
The reasons for Bylaw 925 existing in the first place are still in question. “Town council has changed their position several times over the length of the controversy from liability to safety to made up survey figures,” said Vermette. “The liability issue has been addressed by the provincial government with registration and liability insurance. The safety issues have also been addressed with volunteer donations of security cameras and signage, but flatly refused.
The survey they based their decision on had nothing about ATVs; it was a general survey that nobody can remember receiving. Council also added a noise bylaw attachment to Bylaw 925. It has been one excuse after another.”
The Princeton ATV Club has tremendous backing from the community, which raises the question “who’s behind town council?”
“Council has taken the position with very little support,” said Vermette. “This is typical of a minority ruling our way of life. If we allow this to happen within town limits, how long will it be before other trails are taken away from us by other groups?”
Granting ATVs access to trails in Princeton could garner an economic boon from extra traffic, benefitting the community. The club wants to build circle tour routes going through the community. “What kind of message are we sending to tourists if we tell them to drive around us?” said Vermette.
Vermette’s goal is to have the largest club affiliated with ATV/BC by 2018. It’s ambitious, but not out of the question considering his ability to rally people to his cause.
“I have not been able to go uptown for the past seven months without someone approaching me about this subject,” he said. “This issue is province-wide. My phone and messages never stop. I have up to three meetings a week with people who want this and other community issues corrected. The support for what I am trying to do is incredible.”
To aid Vermette and the Princeton ATV Club, join the group or ATV/BC.