The Hanceville wildfire ravaged northern B.C. last summer. (BC Wildfire Service)

Harsher fines, new off-road vehicle rules in effect to combat B.C. wildfires

Anyone who starts a wildfire could be ordered to pay up to $1,000,000

With memories of last year’s devastating wildfires lingering, the provincial government has increased fines for those who cause the blazes.

A new administrative penalty of $100,000 is now in place for people or companies that caused fires because of improper power line care, including downed power lines, and because of vegetation near a power line not being maintained.

Off-road vehicle users will also have some preparing to do as summer approaches.

All off-road vehicles must now have a spark arrestor installed when operating on Crown land.

A spark arrestor is a small screen in the exhaust system that helps stop sparks from leaving the tailpipe.

Many newer off-road vehicles already have spark arrestors, but those who own older models will need to install them. If you don’t, you could face a ticket fine of $460 or a penalty of up to $10,000.

And it gets worse if the vehicles cause a fire: the operator can get a ticket fine of $575, a penalty of up to $10,000, have to pay $1,000,000 in court costs, or spend up to three years in jail, as well as have to pay the firefighting costs.

The province is also boosting some of its other fines.

Failing to comply with restricted area requirements, with an order restricting an activity or use, and with an order to leave a specified area will now cost you $1,150, up from $767.

The penalty for ignoring a stop-work order has also increased to $10,000.


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