New all-terrain vehicle permit fees for managed trails in New Brunswick have some people questioning whether ATV users will turn to unauthorized trails instead.
But the head of the New Brunswick ATV Federation welcomes the new rules, saying he hopes they will even the playing field when it comes to enjoying the province's trails.
Starting Jan. 1, all-terrain vehicle drivers will have to pay for a permit to use managed trails, the provincial government announced on Tuesday.
Money from permit sales will be used to maintain and develop trails, Public Safety Minister Robert Trevors said in a statement.
"I think that implementng a permit system will only cause more ATV users to drive on non-authorized trails," J.C. Besner posted on CBC Information Morning Saint John's Facebook site.
"It is already next to impossible to enforce existing rules; why add more complications?" he asks.
Federation president Daniel Boucher agrees some people will skirt the fees by avoiding the trails.
"We still have some people that will not buy into our organization and trail permit concept," he said.
"But you can understand they can still travel now out there on Crown land and there's enough wood roads where they can travel without touching the trail system itself. So a managed trail, we got some around the province, but it's not everywhere."
Since 2009, ATVers have been able to buy permits to help pay for trail upkeep, but it's always been voluntary, said Boucher.
Under the new mandatory trail permit program, developed in partnership with the federation, it will now be mandatory.
"Basically it's a three season pass of $25. For the three seasons of spring, summer, and fall. An annual pass will be $75," Boucher said.
Anyone caught riding on a managed trail without a permit will be fined $172.50 under the Off Road Vehicle Act.
"We believe an enhanced trail system will boost New Brunswick's tourism potential, attracting riders from throughout Canada and the northeastern United States to enjoy our beautiful natural spaces," said Boucher.
"We believe this is an excellent first step toward a better, safer and more sustainable managed trail network."