Motorized Recreation Good For Body, Soul ... And Canadian Economy

December 2016 Feature By Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

A few years ago, the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV), released a comprehensive study, showing a wide range of benefits riding off-highway vehicles (OHVs) have on personal health and wellness.

A new study from COHV, conducted by an independent company and released in November, shows that OHVs also positively impact the national economy; to the tune of $6.9 billion. That’s how much Canadians spent in 2015 on direct activities related to ATVs and recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs, also called side-by-sides).

“The health benefit study showed that motorized recreational activities are good for the body and soul,” said Jo-Anne Farquhar, Director of Communications & Public Affairs. “We will use this new information to show how it contributes to the economy nationally and at the provincial level.”

The economic impact study comes at a time when Canadian governments at all levels are making important decisions on the future of OHV recreation. “The purpose of the study was to comprehensively determine the economic impact of not only the purchase of ATVs and ROVs but also related economic activities for Canada and each of its provinces and territories,” stated Bob Ramsay, President of the COHV. “The study encompassed ATV and ROV activities that included riding gear, clothing, insurance and travel related to ATV and ROV use. Together these purchases and activities constitute the direct and indirect expenditures involving ATV and ROV participation.

“Managing the responsible use of ATVs and ROVs is a subject of current interest for many governments. It is also of great interest to the COHV and the not-for-profit rider federations that have developed across the country. This report confirms the scope and scale of the contribution that ATV and ROV use makes to provincial economies.  Especially in rural and northern areas, which the industry points out, is an important aspect that needs to be recognized and considered when discussion is focused on the responsible management of off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity across Canada.”

Facts and figures you can use in OHV advocacy

The independent economic impact study, completed by Smith Gunther Associates Ltd., gives non-profit OHV clubs and federations helpful information they can use in their advocacy work with government agencies, promoting responsible use of OHVs. Here are key points from a fact sheet released by COHV: 

  • In 2015, there were an estimated 705,264 ATVs and 432,219 ROVs in operation.  This estimate is based on an 8.6 percent attrition rate of the current stock of ATVs from 1994 onward when annual sales data were available or could be estimated. Similar adjustments were calculated on ROV purchased after 2006 when they started being used for recreational purposes. From those provinces where licensing data were available this rate is supported by that data.
  • This comprehensive study updates an earlier 2006 study, also conducted by Smith Gunther, which examined the economic impact of ATVs specifically. Both of these reports are a snapshot in time of the economic impacts of ATV and side-by-side or Recreational Off-Road Vehicles (ROVs) recreational activities. Since the 2006 study, ROVs have become a significant factor and both data sources and geographic information systems have improved facilitating increased direct expenditures and availability of data to analyze the impacts.
  • Other expenditures include upkeep and operations of the entire stock of all ATVs and ROVs that is the surviving stock of ATVs and ROVs sold in all years dating back to 1994 for ATVs and 2006 for ROV, enhancements of any on-highway vehicles to facilitate ATV or ROV recreational activities, paid repair and maintenance, gasoline for ATVs and ROVs, membership fees, licensing costs, attendance at events and off-highway vehicle shows and related travel, e.g. mileage charges, food and beverages and accommodation as well as related entertainment.
  • Foreign spending is not considered in the report, but would increase economic impact further. Volunteer time is not considered since it is outside of Stats Canada’s Input/Output range (because no funds are exchanged). Smith Gunther, nevertheless value volunteer time at $554 million to $858 million annually. Licensing fees are also not considered because they are usually recycled back into the general government revenues where their subsequent use will no longer impact ATVs or ROVs. Smith Gunther estimates their impact at $99 million to $123 million.

The Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV), originally founded in 1984, is a national, non-profit, trade association that represents the responsible interests of the major ATV and ROV distributors, as well as the manufacturers, distributors and retail outlets of OHV related products and services. Its mission is the ongoing education and training of the general public on the safe and responsible use of ATVs, ROVs, and off-road motorcycles, as well as to promote the responsible interests of riders and the industry.

The member companies of the COHV account for over 90 percent of all the new ATVs and ROVs sold in Canada. More information related to the COHV is available at

The news release and fact sheet for the Canadian Economic Impact Study of ATV and Side by Side Recreation is on the COHV website under the following hyperlink:

To get the entire report, plus other economic impact studies and information, see the NOHVCC website at:

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