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VIME events - the BC legal framework

Why VIME rallies on Vancouver Island are like they are… The Legal Framework.

1. The Motor Vehicle Act.

This act lays out a great many ”must do’s” (most of which do not apply to us), a number of definitions (some of which are relevant) and two very relevant “must not do’s” that we will come to soon.

First, some definitions from the Act:

"adult" means a person who has reached 19 years of age;

"highway" includes

(a)every highway within the meaning of the Transportation Act,

(b)every road, street, lane or right of way designed or intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles, and

(c)every private place or passageway to which the public, for the purpose of the parking or servicing of vehicles, has access or is invited,

but does not include an industrial road;

2.  But what is an Industrial Road?

The Transportation Act ( ) defines New Highways, Arterial Hwys, Controlled Access Hwys, Scenic Hwys and Forest Service Rds…

"industrial road" means industrial road as defined in the Industrial Roads Act, and includes a forest service road as defined in the Forest Act AND (my capitalisation) land designated as a development road under section 139 (1) of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act;

(Therefore, if a FSR is NOT designated as a development road under section 139(1) Petroleum and Natural Gas Act, it is NOT an Industrial Road.)

Back to The Motor Vehicle Act

"motorcycle" means a motor vehicle that runs on 2 or 3 wheels and has a saddle or seat for the driver to sit astride

The Act goes on to say motor vehicles and operators must be old enough, licenced, registered and insured.

Chapter 319, Part 9, Section 250 then goes on to define and prohibit…

"race" means circumstances in which, taking into account the condition of the highway, traffic, visibility and weather, the driver or operator of a motor vehicle is driving or operating the motor vehicle without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that may cause harm to an individual by doing any of the following:

(a)outdistancing or attempting to outdistance one or more other motor vehicles;

(b)preventing or attempting to prevent one or more other motor vehicles from passing;

(c)driving at excessive speed in order to arrive at or attempt to arrive at a given destination ahead of one or more other motor vehicles;

"stunt" means circumstances in which, taking into account the condition of the highway, traffic, visibility and weather, the driver or operator of a motor vehicle is driving or operating the motor vehicle without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that is likely to cause harm to an individual or likely to distract, startle or interfere with users of the highway by doing any of the following:

(a)causing any or all of the motor vehicle's tires to lift from the road surface;

(b)causing the motor vehicle to lose traction while turning the motor vehicle;

(c)driving the motor vehicle in a manner to cause the motor vehicle to spin;

(d)driving the motor vehicle in a lane intended for oncoming traffic for longer than necessary to pass another vehicle;

(e)slowing or stopping the motor vehicle in a manner that prevents other motor vehicles from passing or in a manner that blocks or impedes other motor vehicles;

(f)without justification, driving as close as possible to another motor vehicle, a pedestrian, or a fixed object.

(None of these conditions are part of VIME gravel road TSD rallies).

Section 3.1 governs the use of electronic devices while driving.   (The electronic devices we use are ”hands-free” and adjusted either by way of remote control buttons or require the vehicle to be “parked” for adjustment.)

The takeaway messages from The Motor Vehicle Act is that legal, private motorists have access to most “highways “ in British Columbia, including established FSRs.

Further, “Race” and “Stunting” are prohibited activities that are defined in ways that DO NOT include participation in TSD rallies.

3. Moving on now to FOREST SERVICE ROAD USE REGULATION  [Last amended March 30, 2022 by B.C. Reg. 76/2022]

Provisions of Motor Vehicle Act applicable to forest service roads:


The following provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act apply to all forest service roads as if a forest service road were a highway:

(a) section 1; (b)section 2 (5), (6) and (7); (c) section 24 (1) and (2); (d) section 33 (1) insofar as it applies to a driver's licence or a driver's certificate; (e) section 68; (f) section 70; (g) section 73; (h) section 84; (i) sections 141 and 142; (j) sections 144 and 145; (k) sections 149 and 150; (l) sections 157 to 160; (m) section 162; (n) sections 169 to 172; (o) sections 185 and 186; (p) section 194; (q) sections 206 (1) to (3) and 207; (r) section 221; (s) sections 224 to 229.

Liability insurance

12   (1) A person must not operate or cause to be operated a motor vehicle or trailer, other than a motor vehicle or trailer described by section 2 (5) of the Motor Vehicle Act, on a forest service road unless

(a) the driver, motor vehicle and trailer are insured under a valid and subsisting contract of accident insurance providing insurance against liability to third parties in the amount of at least $200 000, and

(b) the driver carries written evidence, supplied by the insurer, of the insurance referred to in paragraph (a), or a copy of that written evidence, and produces it, on demand, to a peace officer or an official.

So, this Regulation further confirms the public’s ability to use FSRs in the legislation of regulated, private motoring.

And further in support from the BCGovt…

4. Forest Service Roads.

“Resource roads are constructed to develop, protect and access B.C.'s natural resources. They are used primarily by industrial vehicles engaged in forestry, mining, oil and gas or agriculture operations. In addition to resource industries, resource roads are used by the general public and commercial operators, such as ski hills or fishing lodges. They serve as crucial links for rural communities and access to recreational opportunities.”

5. Regarding ICBC and Insurance:

ICBC is the only BC provider of “in operation” motor insurance.   Insurance is required to be in effect on all roads where motoring is permitted.  Includes FSRs but does not include “off road” motoring.  Hence VIME sticks to FSRs.

“All Risks”.   ICBC insurance, vehicle use in connection with the insured business or profession while operating the insured motorcycle on public roads ie FSRs but not off-road/single track. (Also mentioned above)


Division 3 – General Terms and Conditions

3.1 Application – Unless otherwise provided, the terms and conditions of this Division 3 apply to all Divisions of this policy.

3.2 Policy does not apply – Unless otherwise provided, this policy does not apply and no coverage will be provided in respect of

  1. a vehicle licensed under section 9 of the Motor Vehicle Act while the vehicle is being operated off a highway, [Highway is defined above in the Motor Vehicle Act. Off Highway use is not ICBC insured, FSRs ARE Highway]

  2. ……. (c)……. (d)…..

(e) a vehicle being used in a contest, show or race, or in advanced or performance driver training, if [IF]

(i) the activity is held or conducted on a track or other location temporarily or permanently closed to all other vehicle traffic, and

(ii) there exists an element of race or speed test, which means driving at high speed, and includes passing maneuvers, driving in close proximity to another vehicle or assessing vehicle limitations in speed, acceleration, turning or braking,

[(e), (i) and (ii) DO NOT apply to gravel TSD rallies.]

Division 8 – Prescribed Conditions

Prohibited use

The insurer is not liable to an insured who breaches this condition or a sub-condition of this condition.

3 (1)

(2) An insured must not operate a vehicle for which coverage is provided under this contract

(a) if the insured is not authorized and qualified by law to operate the vehicle, (b) for an illicit or prohibited trade or transportation,

(c) to escape or avoid arrest or other similar police action, or

(d) in a race or speed test.             [Race and Speed Test defined above].

6. Finally, land access.

You are probably aware that there is a Forestry company conglomerate called Mosaic.  One of the main companies in the conglomerate is TimberWest.

Mosaic own large portions of the forests on the south and central areas of Vancouver Island.

As landowners, they permit controlled recreational access to their forests.

“TimberWest is western Canada’s largest private managed forest landowner with 325,000hectares/800,000 acres on Vancouver Island.  The company also owns renewable Crown harvest rights to 700,000 cubic meters of timber per year.  TimberWest is owned by two leading Canadian pension funds, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC) and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments).

Mosaic grants public access to their lands as fits their business operations. If it is gated and closed, keep out! You are trespassing - a Civil wrong, not a criminal wrong.   If you wilfully damage anything you are probably committing a criminal act.

The forests on Vancouver Island that are not owned by Mosaic companies are owned by the Province and managed by timber and forestry companies under Tree Farm Licences.  This includes the pacific side of central Vancouver Island and pretty much all the north of the island.

One of the main companies is Western Forest Products.


Western Forest Products welcomes you to enjoy the great outdoors camping, hiking, boating and fishing in our sustainably managed working forests.

Most recreational access is provided by our extensive network of active resource roads.

  • The safest time to travel is weekends or on weekdays after 6 pm and before 5 am.

  • Always drive as if there is a loaded truck around the next corner.

  • The speed limit is 50 km/h or less depending on road conditions.

  • Never enter areas where active harvesting or road construction signage is posted. Active tree falling, yarding and blasting may be going on in these areas.”

While Mosaic go to great effort to control access to their backcountry, WFP are obliged to facilitate responsible access to the Provincial lands that they manage…

7. You may rightly ask, is this short and punchy?  I have condensed probably hundreds of thousands of words into just as few as I think necessary to demonstrate that we, as legal BC motorists have the right in law to access and ride motorcycles over these backcountry dirt roads - provided we understand and keep within the boundaries set out in these quoted Acts and Regulations.

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