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By: Robert Janis

ATV Association of Nova Scotia

A Friendly Agenda Proves Rewarding for All Terrain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia

People acute in the knowledge of making friends and influencing people have learned that you get better results with a cooperative agenda than you would with a combative one. The All Terrain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia (ATVANS) uses the tactic and has been able to open up dialog with all from government to environmentalists.

The organization was founded in March, 1997 by six of the seven ATV clubs that existed in the province of Nova Scotia at the time. The purpose was to negotiate the future development of the Rails to Trail Program. Today, there are 38 clubs associated with ATVANS. Members of the various local clubs are automatically members of the ATVANS. There are currently about 2,500 members.

The goal of the association is to offer ATV safety training; promote the education of trail issues to members, other trail users, and trail developers; it also assists law enforcement. “We wish to promote ATV as a responsible form of recreation,” said James Anderson, director of public relations for ATVANS. “We encourage parental supervision, and we represent the interests of ATVers to government and landowners.  We assist law enforcement agencies in their course of duty.” ATVANS cooperates with the police authorities including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the towns and districts police forces as well as the Department of Natural Resources, which has responsibility over ATV recreation, hunting, and fishing.

The success of ATVANS is rooted in its concern for those who are not ATV riders. It recognizes that those who do not ride can still provide much needed support. So, for example, the group has liability insurance for private landowners. ATVers who ride on private land and may get injured do not have a need to sue the land owner. “This provides peace of mind for landowners throughout Nova Scotia,” said Anderson.

Promotes ATVers as Cooperative Group

According to Anderson, ATVANS, does not lobby the government. “We are really not a lobby group,” he said. “We will represent, but we don’t lobby. Although we have had problems, we have been fortunate that the governments of the province realize that ATV use affects such a huge percentage of Nova Scotia. So we haven’t had to do a lot of lobbying. Our greatest tool has been to be recognized as a reasonable and approachable influence on government.

2008 Marine Riders Rally
2008 Marine Riders Rally

“You could say that we do our lobbying by our presence,” continued Anderson. “For example, we support wilderness protection. Over a period of time we have made it apparent that we are a reasonable bunch. We are not looking for anything special. We simply want to be considered and treated fairly. By taking this stance and living up to our end of deals, we have developed a good reputation; and, as a result, we are well treated.”

Education is a major part of the association’s agenda. For example, it includes a safety board that arranges and performs ATV training courses in any part of the province for any age group. It helps motivate members by encouraging them to attend annual general meetings where they are educated about current issues.

Members assist the organization by paying dues and doing volunteer work. “We try not to ask too much of our individual members.” said Anderson. “The way ATVANS acquires our executives is through volunteers. We also have individuals chosen by the individual clubs in the province who work with us and who come to our annual meeting so that they can pass on information to us. We work for the individual clubs.”

Although ATVANS does not organize local clubs it certainly is heavily involved in supporting them. “Many of the clubs are very old and have evolved from snowmobile clubs,” said Anderson. “People are motivated enough to start their own clubs, but we support the clubs any way possible. For example, we provide a safety training course and we help them with applications and paperwork to get grants for trail development. We also have a trail coordinator on staff. His function is to visit the clubs and help them plan reasonable routes. We also help with trail development and a little bit with marketing and fund raising, and we have people on our staff who can give water crossing certifications.”

In addition, to help assist the clubs, ATVANS has divided the province of Nova Scotia into six zones, and each zone has a director who communicates with the clubs in his or her zone.

 Safety Minded ATV Rally
Safety Minded ATV Rally

ATVANS promotes ATV recreation at fairs and other events. It also contributes articles to local newspapers and works very hard to put a friendly face on ATV recreation. “I work very hard to convey the message that ‘You meet the nicest people on an ATV,’” said Anderson.
Benefits of being a member include:

  • Peace of mind
  • Insurance coverage
  • A knowledge resource
  • Camaraderie
  • Improved trail access
  • Opportunity to ride in some areas of the province where others cannot.

The organization has a website (www.atvans.org). The site is used to inform people who are not members about the agenda of the group, provides an on-line application for membership, updates news that is of interest to ATV recreationists, includes a club directory which has maps of different areas of the province and information on the local clubs associated with the group, an extensive calendar that has information about events and rides planned by the various clubs, a mission statement, history of the organization, a photo gallery, and links to the Nova Scotia Trails Federation and the Canadian Off Highway Vehicle Council.


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