OFSC Stakeholder Outreach Initiatives Keep Snowmobilers Well Informed

Broad Provincial Consultation With Stakeholders Guides OFSC Planning For This Season

(Barrie, ON: December 10, 2020) – Recently, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) celebrated receiving the Rob Fleming Partnership Award from the Transportation Safety Division of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO).

In its letter of congratulations, MTO stated that: “The OFSC has demonstrated a keen focus on ensuring a strong partnership through mutual co-operation, shared intellectual leadership and resources. The federation has exhibited an outstanding commitment as a partner to provide exceptional snowmobile trails and rider experiences throughout the province while ensuring rider safety.”

This notable recognition is a good example of the OFSC’s inclusive approach to communication with stakeholders and partners, and none are more important than snowmobilers themselves. To keep you informed and up to date about the coming season, we have issued 17 media releases and 16 newsletters since August. See all OFSC media releases here.

Another positive indication that our communications are successfully reaching you comes from recent reports showing that the OFSC has doubled our social media reach to snowmobilers from the same period a year ago.

To recap, the first OFSC release on August 11th shared a high-level overview of the purpose of our Trails To Ride 2021 plan. That is, to ensure the health and safety of our volunteers, landowners and riders for the coming snowmobile season while delivering the best possible trail riding experience for you this winter. Between August and November, we continued to reveal other facets of our evolving plan.

Now in today’s release #18, the OFSC is pleased to provide an insider’s glimpse at one of our key enabling strategies – continuing outreach initiatives by OFSC staff to various stakeholder groups. What follows is a chronological timeline of milestones we have utilized to consult, develop, plan and validate the various components of Trails To Ride 2021.

“From the outset, we understood the importance of stakeholder inclusion to successfully deliver snowmobile trails this winter.” said CEO Landon French. “This outreach was an ambitious undertaking over and above our normal fall workload and I sincerely thank staff across the province for making it happen as they worked from home.”

June & Ongoing – OFSC District Outreach: The OFSC has held 12 virtual Town Hall meetings with districts and clubs since June. The purpose of these sessions was to keep everyone abreast of the latest information and developments related to trail and pandemic preparations and solicit front line volunteer input and feedback to guide provincial planning. We also hosted conference calls regularly to update district administrators, and numerous one on one calls with districts to assist with specific issues or questions related to the coming winter.

August & Ongoing – Public Health Outreach For Volunteers: This outreach initiative included early and ongoing consultation with the public health community for assistance with adapting health and safety protocols unique to OFSC use for trail operations by our clubs and volunteers.

Public Health Outreach For Snowmobilers: At the same time, we tapped into Ontario Public Health resources to start developing the health and safety protocols for snowmobilers to use on the trails this winter. Both sets of protocols are living documents which are being updated as the public health pandemic response evolves.

Additional Consultation Outreach: Throughout the fall, the OFSC has also been consulting or meeting with a variety of other agencies and groups to gain knowledge and insight into their pandemic experience and plans. These contacts include the Ontario Trails Council, Trans Canada Trail, other winter recreation groups, and even Boating Ontario (to benefit from their pandemic learning this summer). Moreover, the OFSC has worked with MTO on aspects of our Trails To Ride 2021 plan and made several presentations to the standing committee on finance and the economy to seek funding support for our pandemic response plans.

August 20th – Media Outreach: The OFSC hosted a virtual press conference for provincial media to announce the development of our high-level strategy to ensure the health and safety of our volunteers, landowners and riders for the coming snowmobile season. Follow up to this meeting includes providing provincial media with all subsequent media releases this fall so they are aware of the progress organized snowmobiling is making.

August 21st – Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO) Outreach: The OFSC initiated a virtual meeting with invitations to all CCSO members to discuss their thoughts, ideas and plans for the coming winter and to gather feedback on its own developing Trails To Ride 2021 plan.  This conference call kick-started worthwhile information sharing with other snowmobile trail associations, including the FCMQ, to the mutual benefit of all involved.

September 16th – Queen’s Park Outreach: The OFSC participated in the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario’s Lobby Day at Queen’s Park to help advocate for economic recovery proposals for the winter tourism industry. During this event and to further the agenda on key OFSC issues, we met with the Associate Minister of Transportation, key players at the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and several MPP’s who are also avid snowmobilers and OFSC supporters.

September 19th – OFSC Club Outreach: Despite not being able to hold our regular Annual General Meeting and Convention in-person this year, the OFSC hosted the largest virtual AGM in Canadian snowmobiling so that delegates from our 200 member clubs could handle important federation business and move ahead with preparations for the coming season.

September 24th – Snowmobile Dealer Outreach: The OFSC led a well-attended virtual meeting with Ontario snowmobile dealers to bring these influential stakeholders up to speed on our plans for the fall and winter and to hear their questions and concerns. Subsequently, we developed a survey to get a better handle on how snowmobile dealers and the OFSC can assist each other in preparation for the next online meeting.

October 8th – Public Health Outreach For Volunteers #2: In cooperation with Workplace Safety North, the OFSC announced our health and safety protocols for volunteers, targeted to help ensure that clubs and volunteers are able to work smart and safe throughout this fall and winter. By mid-October, our District Health & Safety Coordinators had delivered this training to their clubs and volunteers.

October 21st – Customer Outreach: In addition to the frequent and enhanced communications enumerated in the first paragraph, the OFSC has significantly upgraded its customer service capabilities. This project includes a new dedicated customer service team, website and Facebook initiatives to better address your Frequently Asked Questions, and, most recently, a new phone system upgrade to handle your incoming calls more effectively and efficiently.

November 4th – Ontario Tourism Outreach: The OFSC asked Destination Ontario to arrange a virtual meeting with the province’s snowbelt Regional Tourism Organizations (RTO’s). Our agenda included updating the winter tourism community on Trails To Ride 2021 and to establish new lines of communication for continuous information sharing throughout the season, including status changes for hospitality services and any other developments that might impact your trail experience this winter.

November 5th – Public Health Outreach For Snowmobilers #2: The OFSC announced our health and safety measures for your trail riding this winter. These Ride Smart 2021 precautions will help keep trails open by ensuring that we all do our part by practicing socially responsible behaviours when interacting with each other or visiting trail accessible services and communities this winter to prevent transmission of the virus on every ride.

November 23rd – Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO) Outreach #2: The OFSC participated in a national conference call surveying all provinces and territories on plans for their trails for the 2021 season. At this time, all CCSO member associations intend to deliver snowmobile trail this winter following provincial public health guidelines, with some plans more advanced than others.

December 1st to 3rd – Northern Ontario Tourism Outreach: The OFSC presented our 2021 Snowmobile Season plans at the ADAPT 2020 (A Webinar Series for Tourism by Destination Northern Ontario) focused on snowmobile tourism. The webinar was attended by industry specialists and tourism business operators to share best practices and the consideration of COVID-19 in planning for this winter. The OFSC also participated in a conference call for the next scheduled meeting of the Snowmobile Product Team which advises Destination Northern Ontario on its long range strategic plans and initiatives for snowmobile tourism.

Together, these outreach initiatives provided valuable context, perspective and intelligence for inclusive OFSC Trails To Ride 2021 planning development. Consequently, we are confident in having the bases well covered, along with the flexibility to maneuver for every eventuality with the winter of 2021 fast approaching.

The OFSC reminds snowmobilers to check with their local Public Health Unit prior to every ride. Pandemic information is constantly evolving and through our outreach initiatives we will keep you as well informed as possible. Throughout the coming season, the OFSC also advises snowmobilers to check the Interactive Trail Guide and Go Snowmobiling App regularly and frequently to plan your rides, and to reconfirm your route and services before starting each morning.

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is a volunteer led, not for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in Ontario. OFSC snowmobile trails managed by 200 community based, member clubs generate up to $3.3 billion in economic activity in the province each year.