OFSC Urges All Snowmobilers To Follow Public Health Protocols

Together We Can Do This!

(Barrie, ON: January 20, 2021) – On January 18th, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) received the news that, effective January 21st, 2021, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit (NBPSDHU) is temporarily closing all OFSC trails within its region for the duration of the provincial Stay At Home Order. This district stretches from Parry Sound on the shores of Georgian Bay, east to Mattawa on the Ottawa River, and from Novar north almost to Marten River. It also includes many OFSC clubs and their volunteers in OFSC Districts 10, 11 & 7 who have worked very hard to prep their trails and, in some cases, had commenced grooming operations despite a late start to winter.

In a news release from January 18th, 2021, Dr. Jim Chirico, NBPSDHU Medical Officer of Health, stated that: “I have received many complaints about people travelling from other districts to use the local snowmobile trails, thus putting our district at risk of COVID-19. The OFSC recommends that snowmobilers avoid trailering and travelling to destinations that are outside their health unit region to snowmobile, but people have not taken the direction seriously.”

The OFSC respects North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit’s decision and will comply with its temporary trail closure directive within their region. The OFSC has received permission from the NBPSDHU to proceed with limited grooming operations to facilitate OPP trail monitoring and other EMS support, and so that when trails in the affected districts re-open they are ready to ride.  Groomers on trails do not mean trails are open.  We remind snowmobilers to refer to the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) for trail availability before each ride.

“We understand that this decision is in the best interest of public health and we will cooperate and close the trails in question,” said OFSC CEO Landon French.  “We also empathize with our clubs and volunteers who have put many hours into preparing these trails and are disappointed.  We look forward to trails in this health district re-opening after February 11th, and want to thank the snowmobilers who have waited so patiently to start riding while following all protocols in their own public health regions.”

The OFSC wants to reassure all snowmobilers that we remain committed to delivering the best possible trail riding experiences this winter. That’s why, on September 24th we announced “Trails To Ride 2021”, our action plan to get trail preparations and operations underway this fall by investing about 75% of 2020 permit revenues. Our strategy achieved the OFSC’s top priority of having the provincial trail system ready to groom for the season. This ongoing plan also includes “Flex Trails”, regional and local riding alternatives that the OFSC asked districts to implement if their area has limited restrictions that might temporarily impact its trails or trail services.

The OFSC was pleased to learn that the Government of Ontario’s Provincial Shutdown announcement (Dec. 21st, 2020) and its second province-wide State-of-Emergency and new Stay At Home Order announcement (Jan. 12th, 2021) allowed snowmobile trails across the province to remain a “permitted recreational activity”. We were also, and continue to be, ready to do our part to ensure “that participants comply with all other provincial and local public health unit directives” in order to help keep as many OFSC trails open as possible through these challenging times.

Over the past few months the OFSC issued important releases following provincial announcements, updating snowmobilers about how to ride safe this year. Recommendations from the OFSC included:

• “NO trailering at this time to destinations that are not in your public health region, especially with companions who are not members of your immediate household.”

• “Avoid travelling outside their local public health regions for early season sledding, and only ride local trails when availability shows as Yellow or Green on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG).”

• “Snowmobilers with valid trail permits are permitted to access any available (GREEN) or limited availability (YELLOW) trails at this time, but only within the context of the provisions of the Stay At Home Order that allows local recreational exercise from your primary residence.”

The OFSC January 14 release also stated that: “Municipalities and public health units across Ontario have the authority to enact local restrictions in addition to provincial legislation.” So, we urge snowmobilers to abide by our recommendations to help avoid more public health region restrictions.

The OFSC will continue to monitor the situation and share updates about snowmobile trails as they become available to ensure snowmobilers are informed. Please check the OFSC website, Facebook Page and the OFSC newsletter regularly for these updates.

 


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.

 

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact  [email protected]

To view more OFSC news and releases: https://mailchi.mp/8620a2cef4df/industry-newsletter-sign-up/

No Change For OFSC Snowmobile Trails At This Time

Trails Remain A Permitted Recreational Activity Under New Regs

OFSC Update Based On Info Available as of January 14 at 9 AM

On January 12th, 2021, the Province of Ontario announced a second province-wide State-of-Emergency and a new Stay At Home Order. The Order, which has come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, January 14th and will last at least 28 days. On January 13 at 5:56 PM, the Province issued an Order In Council with the regulations for the Stay At Home Order. This Order In Council specifically allows:

16. Exercising, including,

i. walking or moving around outdoors using an assistive mobility device, or

i i. using an outdoor recreational amenity that is permitted to be open under the Stage 1 Order.

As stated previously in the Stage 1 Order, Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, Ontario Regulation 82/20 (Stage 1 Order) dated January 11, 2021, in Schedule 3, section 4. (2):  “The following outdoor recreational amenities may open if they are in compliance with subsection (3)” with the permitted uses listed in subsection 16 as Snowmobile, cross country ski, dogsledding, ice skating and snow shoe trails.

This means that as of today’s date and time, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) can reconfirm that our snowmobile trails remain a permitted recreational activity, allowable across the province as they have been since the last shutdown began on December 26, 2020, provided that participants comply with all other provincial and local public health unit directives. So, snowmobilers with valid trail permits are permitted to access any available (GREEN) or limited availability (YELLOW) trails at this time, but only within the context of the provisions of the Stay At Home Order that allows local recreational exercise from your primary residence.

Meanwhile where weather conditions permit, grooming operations are also allowed under the new regulations, which grant an exception for Working or volunteering where the nature of the work or volunteering requires the individual to leave their residence, including when the individual’s employer has determined that the nature of the individual’s work requires attendance at the workplace.”

As per the previously released Flex Trail Plan, the OFSC will continue to keep feeder trails between public health regions unavailable (RED) and are urging all snowmobilers to stay close to home, ride with those in your household in groups of 5 or less, and only ride local trails if they become YELLOW or GREEN. For latest trail availability, please check the Interactive Trail Guide.  The OFSC encourages all riders to respect local communities and ride in as self sufficient a manner as possible.

The foregoing update provides as much clarity as is available at this date and time regarding OFSC snowmobile trails. We remind riders that the OFSC is about riding trails, not travelling to them, so questions about travel restrictions on trailering away from home or outside your public health region should be directed to local law enforcement agencies as municipalities and public health units across Ontario have the authority to enact local restrictions in addition to provincial legislation.

The OFSC will continue to share updates as they become available about snowmobile trails as they become available to ensure snowmobilers are informed. Please check our website, Facebook Page and the OFSC newsletter regularly for these updates.


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.

 

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact  [email protected]

To view more OFSC news and releases: https://mailchi.mp/8620a2cef4df/industry-newsletter-sign-up/

Rider Surveys Provide Valuable Insight for Organized Snowmobiling in Ontario

OFSC Shares Key Rider Preference Results With Snowmobilers For The First Time

(Barrie, ON: January 7, 2021) – To improve our trail riding experience for snowmobilers, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) conducts our Rider Opinion & Preference Survey every other spring to learn more from riders while the past season is still top of mind. To our knowledge, no other snowmobile association in North America does anything similar or as frequently. Today, we are sharing some of our results from our most recent survey, Spring 2020, to give you another glimpse into the broad range of activities we undertake every year.

About The Surveys: These anonymous surveys repeat previous questions so we can compare answers and identify trends important to all of us. Each time, we also add new questions to address emerging issues or clarify your previous responses. Our results from survey to survey remain remarkably consistent, regardless of weather, snow cover, or season length.

We promote survey participation through our social media and OFSC newsletter. Typically, 6,000 to 10,000 riders complete each survey. This is a remarkable number of responses that would be the envy of any polling company or survey marketer, and it is certainly an irrefutable testament to the passion and enthusiasm of our snowmobilers.

Predominantly Male Respondents: Respondents to our surveys are consistently about 90% male. This is somewhat surprising, because the International Snowmobile Manufacturer’s Association (ISMA) generally pegs the male/female participation ratio among North American snowmobilers as high as 70/30, a number more in line with what we actually see on OFSC trails. Interestingly, this ratio is also reflected in the students graduating from OFSC Online Driver Training during the past year, which was 68% male and 32% female. Going forward, we encourage more female participation in our survey, so we can get a better representation from everyone.

OFSC Survey Use: Your responses still provide a valuable portrait of today’s Ontario snowmobiler. The data offers interesting and informative insights as a reality check on how we’re doing and to assist us in identifying trends, developing plans, tweaking existing programs and introducing new ones as warranted. For this article, we’ve rounded off the percentages for easier reading, and it should also be noted that they may not necessarily add up to 100%, because our survey often offers an “Other” choice or provides the option for multiple responses. That said, do you see yourself in any of these results? How do you compare?

Older Demographic: One characteristic of respondents is that almost 87% say they have been snowmobiling for 10 years or more, which certainly is more than enough experience to provide valuable feedback. Also not surprising, given that ISMA publishes the average age of snowmobilers as 45 years. So we’re generally dealing with an older demographic in our survey, at least in part because folks of a certain age may have more disposable income, more time, and are perhaps more familiar with organized snowmobiling. That said, we are exploring new avenues to solicit responses from newer and younger riders in future surveys.

Who Respondents Are: Meanwhile, these riders self-identify as being 62% “Avid”, 33% “Casual”, with “Newbies” at 5%. About 84% of respondents also reported having more than 1 sled in their household. So presumably in most cases, that means they also represent multiple riders, which speaks to snowmobiling as a family activity.

Volunteering: Regardless, many of the results are instructive. For example, almost 78% of respondents do not volunteer for a snowmobile club. This finding certainly supports the observation that clubs are chronically short of volunteer help. Given that organized snowmobiling depends on volunteers, this also begs the question: What can be done to help recruit more snowmobilers to lend a hand, even occasionally? If only 22% of riders are willing to volunteer, what does that mean for our collective future in snowmobiling?

Where & When Respondents Ride: Meanwhile, survey respondents said this about their trail riding – 64% do their snowmobiling in Southern Ontario, while 36% ride in Northern Ontario (Parry Sound and north). Interestingly when asked when they ride, respondents came in at just over 39% for each of our “Weekends” or “Anytime” choices, with strictly “Weekdays” at 21%.

Who Respondents Ride With: About half the snowmobilers ride primarily with their buddies, just over 28% with family members and 16% with spouses, while they go with other couples only 5% of the time. When it comes to seasonal mileage, 80% of respondents put on 3,000 kilometres or less, and only 4% rack up 5,000 or more. Almost 67% primarily ride day trips, with 25% opting mostly for multi-day trips, and just 2.5% for backcountry riding.

Trailering: To get to the trails, ownership of a snowmobile trailer has grown from just over 50% a decade ago. 77% of respondents now own a snowmobile trailer, probably reflecting changing snow patterns. Of these owners, 76% or so use their trailer half the time or more whenever they go snowmobiling. But 62% of these snow chasers won’t haul their sleds more than 4 hours from home, while 28% will tow for 5 to 9 hours to get to snow, but only 9% are up for driving more than 10 hours. This makes destinations relatively close to home the sweet spot for many snowmobilers, while snowbelt locations in Southern Ontario remain the most popular among those who reside along the 401 corridor.

Winter Vacations: For many, short term getaways like long weekends are more a part of their normal snowmobile season, rather than longer term holidays on the snow. In fact, 60% of respondents report not taking a week or longer for a snowmobile vacation each winter. Among those who do take more time off, 75% travelled within Ontario and 20% visited Quebec.

Hopefully, you found this survey report interesting. It’s just one more tool we use to manage the complex business of organized snowmobiling in Ontario. We want to sincerely thank all previous survey respondents and invite everyone to participate for our next survey. Now, stay tuned, because next week we’ll share “Snowmobiling By The Numbers” information about how important organized snowmobiling is to Ontario.


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.

 

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact  [email protected]

To view more OFSC news and releases: https://mailchi.mp/8620a2cef4df/industry-newsletter-sign-up/

 

 

OFSC Delivers Important New Year’s Message For Snowmobilers

Until Shutdown Ends, Stay Close to Home & Only Ride Local When Trails Are Available

(Barrie, ON: December 31, 2020) – In support of the existing provincial shutdown and to limit non-essential travel, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) urges snowmobilers to avoid travelling outside their local public health region, and only ride local trails when availability shows as Yellow or Green on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG).

The OFSC highly recommends that snowmobilers avoid trailering and travelling to destinations that are outside their public health region. To discourage travelling by snowmobile beyond public health region boundaries, the OFSC has made trails between health units temporarily unavailable (showing Red on the ITG) until further notice.  Trails to Quebec, Manitoba and the United States remain closed.

As noted in a previous release, the OFSC was pleased to see that the Government of Ontario stated “trails servicing snowmobiles will be allowed to be open following all public health guidelines” during the shutdown. It should also be noted that most snowmobile trails in Ontario are unavailable (Red) at this time.

Meanwhile, the OFSC asks all snowmobilers to be considerate of others to ensure the best season possible. Snowmobilers are urgently reminded to only ride local OFSC prescribed trails when available, to avoid damaging the property of generous landowners.

While taking advantage of available local riding opportunities, the OFSC recommends that snowmobilers follow OFSC Ride Smart 2021 protocols to stay safe.

Snowmobilers are reminded to check their local public health guidelines prior to every ride, and to refer to the ITG and Go Snowmobiling App regularly to plan appropriate local rides, and to reconfirm routes and available services.


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.

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact us at [email protected] or by phone at 705-739-7669

Sign up today to view more OFSC news and releases

Snowmobile Trails & Grooming Operations Allowed During Provincial Shutdown

OFSC To Implement Local Flex Trail Riding Options

(Barrie, ON:  December 21, 2020) – Earlier today the Government of Ontario, on the advice of the Chief
Medical Officer of Health, advised all Ontarians to stay home as much as possible with trips outside the home limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work
from home.

“The number of daily cases continue to rise putting our hospitals and long-term care homes at risk,” said Premier Ford. “We need to stop the spread of this deadly virus. That’s why, on the advice of Dr. Williams and other health experts, we are taking the difficult but necessary decision to shutdown the province and ask people to stay home. Nothing is more important right now than the health and safety of all Ontarians.”  (Government of Ontario News Release, December 21, 2020)

Given that physical activity is an important part of staying healthy, today’s announcement by the Government of Ontario stated that “trails servicing snowmobiles will be allowed to remain open.” This means that OFSC trails can open in accordance with all public health guidelines.

Being allowed to remain open allows the OFSC to proceed with trail and grooming operations, however snowmobilers are strongly encouraged to stay home and if they do ride, they need to be mindful of several other important factors related to the pandemic.

  1. Today’s announcement reinforced “that Ontarians should stay at home as much as possible to minimize transmission of the virus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.” This means that during the shutdown, and when trails are in the Orange, Red or Grey Zones, trail riding will be local in keeping with public health restrictions. To facilitate this, the OFSC will implement Flex Trail options for local riding as and where appropriate. Check the Interactive Trail Guide before riding. Flex Trail options include trails within a public health region being available only for local residents.
  2. As the announcement also said: “Many businesses throughout the province will be faced with restrictions throughout the shutdown, including restaurants and bars, which will once again be limited to only take-out and delivery operations.” This means that snowmobilers may not have normal access to food services along the trails and should plan accordingly, although hotels and motels are permitted to operate.
  3. It is likely that all unattended buildings and washrooms (including outhouses and warm up shelters) on the trails will be closed with no access to riders. This is because public health measures demand that such structures “are subject to rigorous cleaning and sanitization protocols” which simply cannot be achieved frequently enough by volunteers, and thereby increase the risk of exposure and will likely close.
  4. OFSC trails connecting to another province (Quebec, Manitoba) or state (Michigan, Minnesota) will remain closed until further notice.
  5. The OFSC strongly encourages all snowmobilers follow current public health measures and practice our Ride Smart 2021 common sense approach to trail riding, including: Plan Ahead. Be Aware. Mask Up. Clean Often. Spread Out.

Even under these conditions, none of us can let our guard down. Only by continuing to demonstrate our willingness to be responsible riders and volunteers, and to cooperate with public health measures, can we protect each other and communities across Ontario.

The OFSC will continue to monitor the situation and communicate changes and status updates to permit holders regularly through our website, Interactive Trail Guide, Facebook page, weekly newsletter and Go Snowmobiling App alerts.


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.

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact us at [email protected] or by phone at 705-739-7669

Sign up today to view more OFSC news and releases

OFSC Trail Riding Provides Physical & Mental Health Benefits for Snowmobilers

Physical Activity of Snowmobiling Contributes To Rider Well Being This Winter

(Barrie, ON: December 17, 2020) – For more than 50 years, The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has delivered 30,000 kilometres of snowmobile trails for the enjoyment of Ontarians while also providing numerous economic, social and health benefits. While the economic impact of snowmobiling is well-documented in several studies and now reaches up to $3.3 billion annually in our province, only recently have the social and health benefits of snowmobiling been professionally quantified.

According to a recent University of Guelph (UofG) study conducted for the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO), “snowmobiling is a good form of physical activity.” The UofG Human Performance & Research Laboratory study concludes that snowmobiling is a “moderate intensity physical activity”, with a “typical ride using a similar amount of energy to downhill skiing or snow shoveling.”

It also notes that Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend a person participate in 150 minutes per week of such moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity to maximize health benefits and to prevent a variety of health risks. So, given that the study indicates that the average snowmobile ride on groomed trails is 6 about hours, a single snowmobile trip is likely to accumulate more, and a weekend of trail riding much more, than this weekly physical activity recommendation.

Equally important, the UofG study confirms that snowmobiling can also be good for mental health. Getting outdoors, being in natural light, seeing nature, and sharing these experiences with others have recognized mental health benefits. All are aspects of our lives often neglected during the winter, and certainly throughout 2020 have become even more significant amid increasing mental health concerns as people strive to cope with the prolonged pandemic crisis.

Together, the UofG study confirms that physical and mental factors position snowmobiling as “an excellent winter activity for people of all ages as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

The UofG health findings certainly support the real-life experiences of hundreds of thousands of active Ontario snowmobilers over many years. The study also reinforces survey results from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) where snowmobilers identified their top reasons to go snowmobiling as related to their overall well-being, including getting outdoors to have fun while enjoying unique scenery and places, and then going home tired and ready for a good night’s sleep.

“Undoubtedly, these health considerations are partly responsible for the surging increase in snowmobile and trail permit sales as many new and former participants are choosing to go snowmobiling this season to stay active,” said OFSC CEO Landon French. “Snowmobilers have always felt that getting out on the trails is a sure cure for the wintertime blues.”

Recognition of the physical and mental health benefits of snowmobiling is very timely for 2020. Throughout the pandemic, health experts have continually encouraged Ontarians to stay as physically active as possible while following all public health measures.

Going snowmobiling is a good way to maintain fitness and well being, especially since riding a sled on the trails is essentially a physically distanced activity. So, to further enhance rider and community health before, during and after any ride, the OFSC has developed Ride Smart 2021, which provides snowmobilers with necessary precautions in line with current provincial public health protocols. Meanwhile, for the safety of new and returning participants, the OFSC is also offering free, online Safe Rider training materials with valuable tips and advice.

The OFSC reminds snowmobilers to check with your public health region prior to every ride, and also to check the Interactive Trail Guide and Go Snowmobiling Ontario App regularly and frequently to plan appropriate local and regional 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.

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact us at [email protected] or by phone at 705-739-7669

Sign up today to view more OFSC news and releases