Making North Island communities accessible to off-road vehicle travelers, is the ambition of the Campbell River ATV Club.
Mike Coulter, president of the Campbell River ATV Club (CRATV) gave a presentation at Port Alice’s council meeting on Nov. 22. outlining the potential for off-road vehicle (ORV) tourism on the North Island.
He explained the club’s idea of an inter-community trail which would enable riders to journey from community to community on their off-road vehicles.
“We believe the tourism economy of north Vancouver Island will continue to grow stronger in the foreseeable future,” said Coulter, adding “We believe inter-community off-road vehicle tourism can be apart of these new tourism initiatives.”
Coulter said ORV tourism has a huge and almost immediate potential to be a significant economic contributor to the communities of northern Vancouver Island.
He compared the potential in ORV tourism to the successful snowmobiling industry in British Columbia’s interior.
“Our North Island communities are surrounded by these vast forested areas with literally thousands of kilometres of already existing trails and forest service roads,” he explained, adding “Those active and deactivate forest service roads and trails can easily be utilized as inter-community ORV routes.”
CRATV held their first inter-community ride in June, where they rode from Campbell River to Sayward, from Sayward to Gold River, and from Gold River to Tahsis.
It was a three-day event with 44 vehicles, carrying 52 people.
“Along the way, most of us ate in restaurants, stayed in hotels, and brought fuel, and had refreshments in local pubs,” said Coulter, adding “This is just a one local club glimpse of the economic potential of inter-community ORV tourism we have the potential to accomplish.”
One issue that hinders the expansion of inter-community ORV travel is ride in access. In order for an ORV rider to enter a community to get food or fuel, they first must obtain an operating permit from a local RCMP officer.
Coulter said this creates logistical problems for riders. “ At present, you need a separate permit for every community you ride into, so you need to repeat this process for every community you plan to ride into on your trip,” he explained.
Coulter said the average ORV tourist is over 50-years-old and is simply someone looking to take in the views and have an adventure.
“An ORV trip to Port Alice from other North Island communities is very feasible and doable but the trip will require ride in access to fuel stops, overnight accommodations, and meals in multiple communities including Port Alice,” said Coulter.
He said the club would like to see designated routes which would allow licensed drivers with registered ORV’s to be able to access food and fuel in communities on the North Island.
“We urge you to ask your businesses, councils, and other community leaders to decide on what designated ORV trail or roadway routes would be necessary or appropriate in your community,” said Coulter, adding “We firmly believe there is a potentially a huge new tourism revenue just sitting on our doorsteps virtually untapped.”