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Utility vehicle use allowed under selective enforcement in Didsbury

Didsbury council considering updating the municipality's community standards to allow use of licensed and insured utility vehicles on town roads and streets

DIDSBURY – Council is considering a possible update to the municipality’s community standards bylaw to allow the use of licensed and insured utility task vehicles (UTV) on town roads and streets.

While the review is underway, use of the vehicles will be permitted under selective enforcement by the town’s bylaw officers, said mayor Rhonda Hunter.

A utility vehicle is a small, four-wheel motorized machine typically with side-by-side seating, seatbelts and rollover protection. They are made by Kubota, John Deere and other companies.

Larry Evans, a Didsbury resident, appeared as a delegation at the recent council meeting and asked elected officials to consider changing the community standards bylaw to allow the vehicles.

Section four of the bylaw currently states, in part, that the use of off-highway vehicles in town is prohibited, with exceptions for emergencies.

“What is our ask? Our ask is for an amendment to the community standards bylaw on behalf of all who would seek to use a UTV for barrier-free transport, or to enhance their lifestyle as well as the needs of their neighbours and this community,” said Evans.

“Our ask is clearly and sharply defined for compliant use of utility vehicles within Didsbury. We’ve got a population that needs to get around, so maybe we could be first and set the pace a bit.”

Council passed a motion accepting Evans’ presentation as information and forwarded the matter to the policy and governance committee for further consideration.

Council passed a second motion to approve selective enforcement of the community standards bylaw to enable the use of utility vehicles that are licensed, insured and meet the Traffic Safety Act until the amendments to the community standards bylaw are completed and enforceable.

Following the council meeting, the mayor was asked if people can now use utility vehicles in town.

“I guess the best answer is if it is in line with the Traffic Safety Act, then yes they can start using them, as long as they meet all the criteria, if the utility vehicle is being managed well, is licensed and insured and it meets the Traffic Safety Act regulations,” said Hunter.

“We want to bring our community standards bylaw into line with the Traffic Safety Act, obviously, so selective enforcement would be at the discretion of the bylaw officer.”

Ethan Gorner, chief administrative officer, did not immediately return a call seeking information on what selective enforcement entails in town.