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Don't ride on closed snowmobile trails, it's not safe and it's illegal, says OPP and local club

If you see riders on closed trails, report it to OPP, says local snowmobile club president
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Snowmobile trails in Collingwood and The Blue Mountains are not open, and both the OPP and a local snowmobile club are reminding people to stay off the closed trails.

Neal Owen, president of Blue Mountain Snow Drifters Club, said there were reports of people riding trails this weekend, but they’re breaking laws, and risking themselves and others.

“It has been a problem and it continues to be a problem,” said Owen. “We’re working with the OPP to make sure the law is followed.”

All Ontario Federation of Snowmobiles Club (OFSC) trails are subject the laws included in the Ontario Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, and riders are only permitted on open trails.

“When you buy a trail pass permit, it gives you permission to ride the trails, not the right,” said Owen. “You still have to abide by the rules.”

Snowmobilers using trails are required to have a trail permit, and when buying a trail permit, they are given the rules and directed to the OFSC interactive trail map, which is an online resource with up-to-date trail closures and openings. All snowmobilers are told to check the status of the trail before heading out. Snowmobilers are required to have a licence, a trail permit, ownership, insurance, and a helmet anytime they are riding a snowmobile in Ontario.

But beyond the letter of the law, it’s a safety and sustainability issue for Owen.

“The only reason we have trails … is because of the gracious landowners … and hardworking volunteers,” he said. “We need to protect those … and make sure the trails are safe and sustainable.”

According to Owen, trail club volunteers will patrol each trail before it is open to make sure there are no hazards, and put up wayfinding signs.

“Snowmobiling is inherently dangerous,” said Owen. “We want to make sure the trails are in the safest possible conditions.”

The Blue Mountain club takes care of about 100 km of trails, none of which have been opened this season. According to Owen, the trails won’t open soon if the weather remains as mild as predicted.

Ontario Provincial Police have already responded to a snowmobile fatality in North Bay, Ontario this month when a man lost control of his snowmobile.

In a news release issued yesterday, OPP warned snowmobilers to stay off closed OFSC trails and off frozen waterways as they remain unsafe.

The OPP also reminded snowmobilers to regularly check the OFSC interactive trail guide for real-time trail availability.

Owen said snowmobiling is a $3 billion industry in Ontario and it generates $94 million for the region’s economy.

It’s his mandate, and that of the club’s, to protect the industry, the riders, the landowners, and the local trails.

He encouraged residents who see snowmobilers on closed trails to report it to the local OPP.

For more information on safe and lawful snowmobiling, visit the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs website or Snowmobile Safety in Ontario.

Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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