OFSC Delivers Strong Snowmobiling Season Despite Challenges

Season Peak of 26,000 Kms of Available OFSC Trails Reached on February 25, 2021

(Barrie, ON: March 31, 2021) – The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) extends sincerest appreciation to our 6,000 volunteers, whose trail-building expertise and operational dedication are the grassroots backbone of our local snowmobile clubs across Ontario. Despite facing unprecedented and continually evolving challenges, their volunteer efforts, cooperation and determination during the past season helped achieved the commitment we made to snowmobilers in our Trails To Ride 2021 plan – to deliver the best possible trail riding experiences.

“I want to commend everyone on Team OFSC for our collective achievements this winter,” commented CEO Landon French, “from volunteers to landowners to stakeholders, and to staff who helped steer us through uncharted territory this year.”

In addition, the OFSC wants to thank each and every permit buyer for your patience and understanding through the season. We really appreciate your support of OFSC trails and your willingness to adapt to local riding this winter and for taking the necessary precautions. Certainly, if the positive, post-season feedback from snowmobilers on social media is any indicator, many of you agree that this season was a success story given the circumstances. And what a story it was…

Challenge: From the outset, the OFSC realized that living up to our commitment to deliver a great season would require walking a fine line between the expectations of our districts, clubs, volunteers, landowners and permit holders, and the changing pandemic requirements from various public health authorities. Overall, the season came off well with record permits sold.

Trails Report: We are pleased to report that first available OFSC trails showed Yellow or Green on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) as early as December 14, 2020. With Old Man Winter’s cooperation, we had more than 13,000 kilometres of trails available in 15 districts by January 25, 2021. From that date through March 8, 2021, we had an average of 20,045 kilometres of OFSC trails available, including over 22,000 for the Family Day Long Weekend, and topping out at a peak of 26,000 kilometres on February 25, 2021. The last trails closed for the season on March 22, 2021. Fortunately, in a season with many atypical travel restrictions, trail availability was relatively close to home for many riders in most OFSC districts.

Unfortunately, some pandemic restrictions were frustrating for those who live in public health regions that do not have any OFSC trails or in regions where trails were closed for a period of time. After sharing such an abnormal season, we empathize with those who were not able to ride as they normally would and join you in looking ahead to a better season next year.

As everyone knows, the sole exception was the North Bay Parry Sound area, where their public health unit unexpectedly closed OFSC trails to snowmobilers on January 21, 2021. We did, however, score a small win by being able to continue trail maintenance and grooming operations, without which our trails could not have re-opened quickly when the ban was lifted on February 22, 2021. We had worked diligently behind the scenes to get this trails closure rescinded as early as possible.

So how did we avoid an imposed province-wide shutdown of OFSC trails at any time during the season? It was the result of great teamwork, creative innovation and flexible planning. Here are several examples:

Outreach: Throughout the fall, the OFSC consulted with a variety of agencies, stakeholders and other recreational groups to gain knowledge and insight into their pandemic experiences and ideas. All season, we carefully monitored public health developments and changes, tailoring our pandemic response protocols to meet all new recommendations and expectations.

Health & Safety: In cooperation with Workplace Safety North, the OFSC announced our own health and safety protocols to help ensure our clubs and volunteers were able to work smart and safe throughout the season. Throughout the fall, our District Health & Safety Coordinators delivered this training to clubs and volunteers. Next, we implemented Ride Smart 2021, our common sense approach to help snowmobilers do their part to avoid community spread and keep trails open, which also made “snowcial distancing” part of our sledding jargon for 2021.

Communications: We also initiated a comprehensive communications plan to keep snowmobilers up to date about developments through a total of 35 weekly newsletters commencing August 11. For example, one communiqué emphasized the proven physical and mental health benefits of snowmobiling, while other releases explained changing public health measures applicable to OFSC trails and how to comply with them. Our releases also served the important purpose of building and maintaining credibility for, and confidence in, organized snowmobiling with the various authorities and agencies charged with overseeing pandemic response across Ontario.

Recognition: We were quickly recognized by government, public health and industry stakeholders for our progressive leadership in keeping recreational snowmobiling on the “approved recreational activities” list. In fact, thanks to our Flex Trails option and local riding opportunities, OFSC trail riding stood out among other leading winter recreational choices for being allowed to remain open throughout the entire winter.

So let’s give one another a large pat on the back for a job well done – and start dreaming about great trail riding next winter!

 


 

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 Announces Landowner Appreciation Week with New Recognition Initiatives

March 22 – 28 Proclaimed OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021

(Barrie, ON: March 18, 2021) – The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has declared the week of March 22 – 28 as OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021. Across the province, landowners are the unsung contributors to organized snowmobiling who donate the use of a portion of their private property for snowmobile trails each winter. Their land not only provides OFSC snowmobilers with safe and legal places to ride, but also connects thousands of sections of disparate trails into an integrated, seamless trail network. In addition, private land provides connections to hundreds of rural winter communities for their recreational, social and economic well-being in our traditionally most dormant season.

Without our more than 18,000 generous landowners, trail riders could not enjoy recreational snowmobiling as we know and enjoy it today. So it’s entirely appropriate that we celebrate OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021 as the opportunity for snowmobile clubs, club volunteers, snowmobilers and snowbelt communities to offer every landowner our heartfelt gratitude for the use of their property during this unprecedented and uncertain winter.

 

Save Our Trails: In preparation for OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021, we recently launched several key provincial anti-trespass initiatives. One is an ongoing Save Our Trails call to action. It targets making off-trail trespass as socially unacceptable within the snowmobile community as drinking and driving, driving without a seatbelt, or smoking in the workplace are in our society today. Save Our Trails asks individual snowmobilers to support our landowners by spreading the word about responsible behaviour on private property to family and friends, on their social media, and by embracing the behaviour we advocate in the OFSC’s “Friends Don’t Ride With Friends Who Trespass” message.

OFSC Trail Rider Code of Conduct: A second recently introduced initiative is the new OFSC Trail Rider Code of Conduct, the first of its kind developed in North America. The Trail Rider Code of Conduct emphasizes that land use permission is a privilege not a right. It’s a privilege that must be respected and defended by every trail rider adopting the ten responsible behaviours for riding on private property outlined in the Code.

Landowner Radio PSA: In its third key initiative for OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021, we have worked with Skywords Media to develop a radio Public Service Announcement (PSA) to recognize and thank landowners province-wide. The PSA recalls that landowners providing land use for snowmobile trails is a rural tradition that goes back more than 50 years, and extends heartfelt appreciation to each private property owner for making winter safer and more enjoyable.

To coincide with OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021, the PSA is being broadcast on more than 70 participating radio stations until the end of March, and the OFSC is also promoting it through an extensive social media campaign.

OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021 marks the wind-down of the 2020-21 snowmobiling season. But stay tuned, because it’s also the precursor to an ambitious Stay On The Trail/Anti-Trespass Campaign to support our landowners already being planned by the OFSC for launch next fall.

 


 

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]