Farmers and ranchers in the areas of Winfield, Buck Lake, Alder Flats and the rest of the County of Wetaskiwin who operate off-highway vehicles in their operations can breathe a little easier now that the county council has approved a bylaw allowing their usage, but there are a few conditions.
The off-highway vehicles include three- to eight-wheeled units such as ATVs, quads, Gators and Argos that are used for farming purposes.
“The topic of off-highway vehicle operations in the County of Wetaskiwin has been discussed many, many times over the past years,” said Reeve Garry Dearing. “Until now, council has always opted to follow the Provincial Traffic Safety Act, which prohibits the use of off-highway vehicle operation on highways (local roads).”
As such, all other usage of off-highway vehicles in the county will continue to be regulated by the Traffic Safety Act (TSA), which prohibits the use of off-highway vehicle operation on public roads and highways.
In passing the bylaw, the county council exercised their authority under Section 120(4)(b) of the TSA to enact the bylaw, which states that off-highway vehicles may be used in farming operations during daylight hours only and other specific guidelines aimed at regulating such use.
Specifically, the bylaw states the operator of an off-highway vehicle for farming purposes must be insured, have a valid registration and possess an operator’s licence. Further, operators must have a Fuel Tax Exemption or an Alberta Farm Fuel Benefit number or proof thereof, and unless the vehicle is being operated in an emergency situation, can only be operated in daylight.
For clarity, county council defined an “emergency situation” as, “where real and apparent danger to the physical security of individuals exists and the use of the off-highway vehicle is demonstrably necessary to mitigate that danger.”
With the new bylaw, county council feels agriculture producers will benefit greatly by allowing farmers to legally use off-highway vehicles on local roads to assist with daily farming operations, and only farming operations.
“All other usage of off-highway vehicles in the County of Wetaskiwin continues to be regulated by the Provincial Traffic Safety Act which prohibits the use of off-highway vehicle operation on highways,” added Dearing.
Other specific details regarding the operation of off-highway vehicles in the County of Wetaskiwin can be found on their website at: www.county.wetaskiwin.ab.ca or by contacting the protective services department at 780-352-3321.