A West Vancouver man says the province has quietly banned a class of collector vehicle without justification as to why.
Mark Fleming, an active Canadian Forces reservist who collects and rents former military vehicles, says the province will no longer allow mechanics to give safety inspections to the vehicles, making them uninsurable “expensive paperweights.”
“To be clear, I'm not asking to drive tanks on the road. … What they're saying is a civilian Hummer with a shiny paint job is perfectly legal but a military one with a green or tan paint job is not,” he said.
Fleming has been seeking answers from the ministry since he recently had to refund a client’s purchase of a U.S. military surplus Humvee, when the client learned ICBC would not insure it. The vehicle had been legally imported and inspected, registered and taxed as recently as the summer.
A bulletin issued from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement Branch last month makes it clear to inspectors that they can no longer pass "non-conforming" ex-military vehicles that were “not designed to conform to the standards prescribed in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada) for motor vehicles designed for use on a highway at the time the vehicle was manufactured.”
“A non-conforming ex-military vehicle can ONLY be inspected under MVAR Division 25 Part 1 if its licensed gross vehicle weight is greater than 8,200 kg. Even if a non-conforming ex-military vehicle passes inspection, it is not authorized for unrestricted highway use,” the bulletin reads.
The bulletin doesn’t offer a rationale for the change, but Fleming said it’s a case of the government trying to legislate taste.
“They just don't like military vehicles. It's a taste thing. It's nothing to do with safety, because they're certainly safer than some of the other vehicles that are perfectly legal,” he said, noting anyone can import and register wooden-framed, plastic-bodied "lemons" from around the world.
Fleming has about 40 ex-military vehicles, including tanks, light armoured vehicles, Second World War Jeeps and motorcycles, which he rents out for film shoots, parades, educational and charitable events, and transporting current and former military members to their weddings and funerals.
More than being an arbitrary safety decision, Fleming said it takes away an important hobby for a community of veterans.
“In no small way, it's a kind of therapy for them. We’re talking about guys who have PTSD and stuff like that and they screw in for absolutely no reason,” he said.
Fleming said he hopes the ministry will arrive at a “reasonable” decision and allow safety inspections to proceed again.
Update: On Dec. 9, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure sent the following response.
"As safety is CVSE’s top priority, CVSE conducted a formal review of inspection practices with ex-military type vehicles in fall 2020. The purpose of this was to ensure designated inspection facilities and authorized inspectors were provided clarification regarding the inspection and related provincial vehicle standards for these types of vehicles. CVSE followed up with ICBC to provide clarification. Additionally, CVSE posted Bulletin 01-21 for all inspection facilities to provide clarification around these types of vehicles. CVSE is not involved with the administration or policy regarding antique or collector vehicles. Oversight is maintained by ICBC," it read. "The application of inspection requirements would not change if the vehicle is an antique or collector vehicle. Vehicle usage, rate class, registration, licensing and insurance options are at the discretion of ICBC as the provincial insurer. Non-conforming vehicles may still qualify for restricted use, which would be determined by ICBC."
Click on the YouTube link below to see a T-55 from Fleming's collection crush a car to raise money for the Royal Canadian Legion, Cloverdale branch.