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/

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

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.

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