OFSC Updates Snowmobilers On Flex Trails & New Ontario Re-Opening Framework

Flex Trails Provide Permit Buyers With Options For Trail Riding This Winter

What’s Included:
Trails To Ride 2021 Plan Components
• Pandemic & OFSC Trails
• Flex Trails & How They Work Under Re-Opening Framework
• Do Your Part, Ride Smart

(Barrie, ON:  November 26, 2020) – In prior releases, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) announced and updated its comprehensive Trails To Ride 2021 plan. It focuses on working through these challenging times to deliver the best trail riding experiences on as many trails as possible this winter with the cooperation of all snowmobilers.

This release updates our previous one on October 22nd. It reflects the new Ontario re-opening framework that took effect on November 7th. Since then, several public health regions have moved into a higher restriction level, but to date only Toronto & Peel are in the Grey-Lockdown level. Click here for details on the current status of public health regions across the province.

Components of OFSC Plan: As previously reported, Trails To Ride 2021 includes several flexible, complimentary and integrated strategies for province-wide trail preparations, groomer fleet operations, and pandemic response for the health and safety of volunteers, snowmobilers, landowners and snowbelt communities, with enhanced communications for all stakeholders. The OFSC pandemic response includes Flex Trails (see below) to provide permit holders with as many alternative trail riding opportunities as possible if needed during these uncertain times.

Impact of Pandemic Changes on OFSC Trails: With Ontario’s new Re-Opening Framework and more recently tightened pandemic restrictions in 14 out of 34 of Ontario’s public health regions, some snowmobilers are wondering if these changes will have any impact on overall trail availability this winter.

As a pre-season test, the OFSC has applied the restrictions to our trail operations to help predict what trails would be able to remain open in a safe and compliant manner when winter actually arrives. Snowmobilers will benefit in season from this exercise under the Flex Trails approach detailed below. Here’s what we found based on the present status of the Re-Opening Framework…

  • Grey-Lockdown Level: In the locked down Toronto and Peel public health regions, there are no OFSC trails, but residents are urged to restrict travel outside of their region for essential purposes only.
  • Red-Control & Orange-Restrict Levels: Public health regions in the Red-Control Level (Durham & Waterloo) and Orange-Restrict Level (Huron Perth, Simcoe Muskoka District, Southwestern and Windsor-Essex County) require stringent regulations that stop short of lock down. But our exercise shows that for any of these that have trail and grooming operations, delivering trails would still be achievable. Additionally, if this was winter and any OFSC trails were now available to ride within any of these Red or Orange regions, local residents would still be able to do so. The only impact of Red-Control and Orange-Restrict on OFSC trails would be on inter-regional riding. Accordingly, connecting trails located outside of one of these regions, but that lead into and out of it, would be temporarily unavailable for the duration these levels are in effect. Meanwhile, trail riding within or between all unaffected neighbouring regions would continue as usual.
  • Yellow-Protect & Green-Prevent Levels: Public health regions in the Yellow-Protect Level (Chatham-Kent, Eastern Ontario, Grey Bruce, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington, Peterborough and Thunder Bay) and Green-Prevent Level (remaining 20 public health regions) can continue operations within the recommended guidelines and snowmobilers are required to adhere to the general health protocols in place across Ontario, but riding would continue to be available on all their OFSC trails.

Flex Trails: These new developments and any possibility of future restrictions by public health regions in primary snowbelt areas is a key component of planning for Trails To Ride 2021. The OFSC has developed flexible options for trail riding this season to be implemented only if districts and clubs are required to do so in cooperation with their public health regions. This Flex Trails strategy includes regional and local riding alternatives for any area with limited restrictions that might temporarily impact trails or trail services, such as those just described in our pre-season test.

How Flex Trails Work: For example, Flex Trail options could include trails within a public health region being available only for local residents on a temporary basis. Or Flex Trails could enable regional or inter-regional riding to continue on certain designated Trans Ontario Provincial (TOP) Trails through less populated areas, while temporarily shutting down others. Alternatively, some snowbelt communities might consider the Flex Trail option to reduce traffic locally in some locations while still enabling riders to enjoy other adjacent trails. Through this Flex Trail approach, as many trails as possible in the 30,000-kilometre OFSC network would remain available for permit buyers to ride.

NEW – Taking The Guesswork Out Of Flex Trails: It should be noted that implementing Flex Trail options relates to public health region boundaries, which are different from OFSC district boundaries, which can be confusing for everyone.

To assist OFSC Districts in making timely and accurate Flex Trail decisions and for internal use only, the OFSC has recently added a new “COVID Per Health Region” layer to the backend of the Interactive Trail Guide. This direct feed from a government reporting tool enables our districts to see all public health region boundaries to more easily determine what trails feed into or out of a region(s) in their district if it goes into either the Grey-Lockdown or Red-Control Levels for a period of time.

Do Your Part, Ride Smart: As you can see, we are making every effort to deliver the best possible trail riding this winter. But to help out, we’re asking every snowmobiler to do their part to prevent transmission of the virus on every ride. While we all know that the riding itself is relatively safe, the risk increases considerably whenever we ride together in a tow vehicle or stop along the trail.

So, everyone needs to practice socially responsible behaviours when interacting with each other or visiting trail accessible services and communities. Not doing so could result in closed services, limited access to communities, and possibly even trail restrictions during the season. That’s why the OFSC launched Ride Smart 2021, a common sense approach to help snowmobilers work together to keep the fun happening!

Looking Ahead To Winter: No one is happy about the new pandemic restrictions currently in place in some regions, but the silver lining may well be that taking tougher action now will result in fewer trail riding limitations when trails are ready to ride after the New Year. In addition, Flex Trails should still provide permit buyers with ample opportunities to hit the snow.

Meanwhile, snowmobilers are assured that the OFSC is keeping a close watch on the evolving pandemic situation, while working closely with snowbelt public health regions and our districts and clubs to respond as and when needed with the Trails To Ride 2021 goal of delivering the best possible trail riding experiences this winter. Accordingly, the OFSC will continue to communicate all changes and status updates to permit holders regularly and frequently 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 Provides Fall Communications Recap For Snowmobilers

All the OFSC News You Need To Know (To Date) To Be Ride Ready This Winter!

(Barrie, ON – November 12, 2020): Since August, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has shared a ton of information through our website, Facebook page and newsletters. Our communications focused on evolving developments affecting trail riding for this winter, in addition to news about the early permit sales program.

Now, with growing anticipation among new and returning snowmobilers to hit the snow, a brief recap and progress reminder about trail developments may be helpful to put everything that’s happening in context as we get closer to winter. We hope this update will also answer any questions those who may have missed our regular communications still might have.

August 11 – High Level Plans for Upcoming Ontario Snowmobile Season: Articulates our big picture goals for season preparation. 1. To deliver the best possible trail riding experiences for snowmobilers. and 2. To ensure the health and safety of its volunteers, landowners and riders for the coming snowmobile season. Also introduces new strategies currently under development to be reported in later releases (see below).

August 27 – OFSC Invests in Groomers for Better Trails This Winter: Speaks to our comprehensive provincial fleet management strategy, which focuses on optimizing the effectiveness and efficiency of one of the world’s largest trail groomer fleets for the coming winter, including millions of dollars for new groomers (also see October 15 investment update).

September 17 – OFSC Takes Driver Training 100% Online For 2020-21: In order to continue the program without interruption and for the health & safety of students, we are offering Driver Training courses are online only for the 2020-21 season – click here to register today!

September 24 – OFSC Committed To Providing Trails To Ride This Winter: Introduces Trails To Ride 2021 plan (including Flex Trails) for getting trail preparations and operations underway this fall for the provincial trail system to achieve our top priority of having trails ready to groom as soon as snow conditions allow (see also October 22 Flex Trails release).

October 8 – OFSC Health & Safety Plan Protects Volunteers, Landowners, Communities & Riders: Introduces the most progressive pandemic response plan among Canadian trail user groups to ensure the health and safety of everyone working on, riding on or depending on OFSC trails, including the snowbelt communities, hospitality providers and residents that serve OFSC trails.

October 15 – OFSC Update On Groomer Investment for 2021 Season: Provides new progress details on groomer purchases, refurbishments and reallocations since the August 27 release.

October 22 – OFSC Updates Snowmobilers On Flex Trails & Recent Pandemic Developments: Addresses the benefits of Flex Trails and how they work, using real world examples from Modified Stage 2 Regions (now classified as RESTRICT/ORANGE under the new Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework announced November 3, 2020).

October 29 – OFSC Ride Planning & Trail Navigation Tools for 2021 Season: Reports on ride planning and trail navigation tools for the coming season, including the Interactive Trail Guide, Go Snowmobiling App, TrakMaps for Garmin GPS, and district trail guides.

November 5 – OFSC Launches Ride Smart 2021 For Safe & Healthy Snowmobiling: Introduces Ride Smart 2021, a common sense approach to help snowmobilers work together to keep the fun happening on our trails this winter.

The OFSC is pleased to reconfirm that we remain very confident of delivering lots of snowmobile trails to ride this winter. We are also encouraged by the more optimistic and targeted approach of the new Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework announced November 3, 2020, which provides better opportunities for hospitality services to remain open this winter. Meanwhile, snowmobilers can count on us to continue to communicate the latest news and updates for safe and healthy trail riding as we work together to make the winter of 2021 the best possible experience for everyone.

 


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

PROVINCE OF ONTARIO ANNOUNCES SUPPORT OF SNOWMOBILING INDUSTRY

September 23, 2019 (Mississauga, ON) – Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney addressed over 200 members of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs at their annual meeting in Mississauga on Friday, committing to long-term, sustainable funding of $500,000 annually to support Ontario’s snowmobiling industry. Minister Mulroney also reiterated the government’s support for online snowmobile driver training and permit vouchers, streamlining processes and cutting red tape.

“On behalf of our clubs, thousands of volunteers, and more than 100,000 snowmobilers who come from near and far to enjoy over 30,000kms of trails each winter, I want to thank Minister Mulroney and the Government of Ontario for their incredible support of the snowmobiling industry. With an annual economic impact of up to $3.3 billion in Ontario, this announcement provides a model for how industry and government can work in partnership to deliver world-class experiences. A multi-year funding agreement affords us the ability to plan our infrastructure renewal well into the future, a key pillar in ensuring our long-term sustainability” said OFSC Chief Executive Officer Ryan J. Eickmeier.

In addition to the long-term funding, Minister Mulroney announced that online driver training would be available in October and that Ontarians would soon be able to purchase gifts cards and redeem them for a permit, locking in the permit price at the time of gift card purchase.

“The OFSC has listened to its members and is happy to deliver on these two important initiatives,” Eickmeier said. “I thank the Minister as well as Ministry of Transportation officials who have worked closely with us for over a year on developing the online course and gift cards. The launch of the online driver training course will open up our sport to a whole new generation of Ontarians, and the new permit gift card is unquestionably a welcome and convenient option that directly benefits consumers.”

Further details on the online training course and permit vouchers will be available shortly.

For further info, please contact: Andrew Walasek 705-739-7669 x251 [email protected]

NEW STUDY FINDS SNOWMOBILING CAN CONTRIBUTE UP TO $3.3 BILLION ANNUALLY IN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY

(Barrie, ON – June 12, 2019) – The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has released a new economic impact study based on the 2018-19 snowmobile season. The study found that the economic impact of snowmobiling has the potential to generate between $1.6 and $3.3 billion in total economic activity in any given season, dependent on factors such as weather.

“Snowmobiling continues to be the major driver of Ontario’s winter economy,” said OFSC Chief Executive Officer Ryan Eickmeier. “Thanks to our Club volunteers, snowmobilers experience 30,000kms of world-class riding conditions, supporting local businesses across the entire province. From job creation to taxation revenue to keeping a small business open all winter, snowmobilers certainly contribute across the board.”

Among the key findings of the study was that $842 million in expenditures contributed to $403 million in direct GDP and a total of $665 million in direct, indirect and induced GDP impacts. Additionally, direct employment from the season’s snowmobiling expenditures totalled an estimated 6,436 full-time equivalent jobs.

“Through our strong partnership with the Government of Ontario and increased marketing of our product, the economic impact of snowmobiling will continue to grow in the years ahead” continued Eickmeier.

The OFSC retained Harry Cummings & Associates Ltd to study the 2018-19 snowmobiling season, using the Ontario Ministry of Tourism’s Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model (TREIM). The study was generously supported through a grant by the International Snowmobiling Manufacturers Association (ISMA).

A copy of the report can be found here: OFSC Economic Impact Study

For further information, please contact Andrew Walasek at 705-739-7669 x251