Off-highway vehicle riders can now use Red Deer County roads.
The previous Off-Highway Vehicle Bylaw prohibited their use on county roads rights-of-way. Exceptions were made for county workers doing weed spraying and other jobs and for peace officers going about their duties.
Councillors have frequently had complaints from local landowners that it was illegal for them to use their off-highway vehicles on county roads even when using their ATVS, quads and similar vehicles to move cattle, checking fence lines or doing other farm-related tasks.
The issue was identified a year ago by council as a strategic planning item. County staff checked with neighbouring counties to see what their policies were and then council got a presentation last May on options.
The bylaw allows the use of county roads for the vehicles. Use is restricted where signs have been posted prohibiting off-highway vehicles, such as trails, sidewalks and other areas open to the public where people would not expect to see the vehicles.
Riders must still obey all the regulations in the Traffic Safety Act, which covers offences such as careless driving and stunting.
Dave Brand, the county’s director of community and protective services, said if problems arise the county can go back to the bylaw and add restrictions.
The county’s bylaw does not apply to primary and secondary highways, which are the province’s responsibility.
Councillors welcomed the bylaw changes on Tuesday.
“I think it’s great that we’re responsive to our agricultural community,” said Coun. Christine Moore.
Huelsman said the change will be well-received by county residents and the bylaw now brings the municipality in line with neighbouring counties.
Mayor Jim Wood said he has been hearing complaints about the county’s restrictions for years.
The change means farmers using their off-highway vehicles for their work can now do so legally, he said.
Council unanimously passed the bylaw.