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By: Robert Janis

Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association

Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association Serves as Conduit between Off-Road Enthusiasts and Their Government

Education and communications are the way that the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association (AOHVA) influences policy that impact on off-road enthusiasts in the Province of Alberta, Canada. For example, it surveyed Alberta, Canada politicians concerning issues of concern to off-road recreationists and printed their comments in the organization’s newsletter, The Trail Talk, prior to elections in 2008.

Founded in 1981, the mission of the group is to provide safe individual and family motorized recreational opportunities in an environmentally responsible manner, explained Robert Smith, president of AOHVA. It has an average of 2,500 to 3,000 members.

Although the group does not officially lobby the government, it does work with it on all off-road issues. “We consult on all topics and sit on as many committees as we can that have an influence upon the OHV riders of Alberta,” said Smith. “We are in constant contact with ministers, the Premier (of the province), and the various department leaders.”

Members of the organization are encouraged to get involved in all facets including education, training, trail maintenance, trail development, fund raising, and more, explained Smith.

AOHVA has a classroom education program available to any school in Alberta. The program offers elementary school age kids the basics of safe riding and trail etiquette. Moreover, in cooperation with the National Off-Highway Conservation Council and COHV, AOHVA also offers an Adventure Trail CD and activity books that include hints on riding off-road as well as suggest fun activities. “The association travels to all corners of the province with safety displays and lots of information including maps and safe riding brochures, CDs and more,” said Smith.

Local clubs are the backbone of the organization.  The AOHVA is also involved in creating clubs in Alberta. “We will attend organizational meetings and have a pretty comprehensive “how to start a club” document available,” said Smith. “We also provide personal advice and help.”

Smith pointed out that the local clubs are most important in the process of influencing local governments about the issues of concern to off-road recreationists. “Local clubs are more aware of local issues than anyone, and we try and work those issues with the clubs,” said Smith. “We can bring in expertise and additional information to help them work with their local government.”

In addition, local clubs associated with AOHVA build trails, host rallies, train riders, and hold activities for all members of the family.

The AOHVA also works with national ATV associations. In fact, the group was a founding member of the ATV Quad Council of Canada (AQCC) and the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada (MCC) and has been involved in bringing all Canadian riders together for many years, noted Smith. The AOHVA is also a member of the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council (MMIC) and the Canadian All-Terrain Vehicle Distributors Council (CATV). It also works with such groups as the BlueRibbon Coalition, and it is very involved in bringing the Canadian OHV associations into the NOHVCC network. The organization has also had contact with other U.S. groups from time-to-time, especially when dealing with cross border issues.

Moreover, the group is a member of the board of directors of the TrailNet Alberta. TrailNet Alberta is part of the Trans Canada Trail Program. It consists of all types of trail users including hikers, bicyclists, snowmobilers, equestrian users and more. “By working with all other user groups, AOHVA hopes to create sustainable multi-use trails throughout Alberta,” said Smith. He pointed to the Iron Horse Trail in Northeast Alberta as a successful example of what can be done.

According to Smith, the most urgent issue facing off-road riders in Alberta is land access and enforcement. As a result, the AOHVA is involved with the new Land Management Framework, parks planning and is also in constant communication with government officials regarding trail issues and enforcement.

Anyone, club, or corporation can become a member of AOHVA. Benefits to members include representation with the government, special insurance and travel programs and more.

The organization has a website ( but it is currently going through an upgrade. “As with most non-profits, the website is difficult to keep current with volunteer help,” said Smith. “But we are about to make a change to that strategy, and you will see the results in the very near future.” The website has been used to communicate current issues, offer maps of approved areas for riding, serves as a contact to clubs and provides links to interesting information of concern to off-road riders.

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