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 Provides Final Update For Snowmobile Trail System and Interactive Trail Guide

(Barrie, ON: March 25, 2021) – During this OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is confirming that there are now no OFSC Prescribed trails available for snowmobiling anywhere in Ontario. All of our more than 30,000 kilometres of trails are showing RED on the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide (ITG), meaning that the entire provincial trail system is now shut down for the season, thereby ending safe and legal snowmobile trail riding opportunities in every OFSC district until next winter. Meanwhile, we join the Ontario Provincial Police and other police services in warning snowmobilers to stay off any ice, which is disappearing rapidly now that Spring has officially arrived.

Out of respect for our landowners and to protect private property, crops and livestock from off-season trespass by other trail motorized users, the ITG will go offline effective March 26, 2021 until November 2021. Our Go Snowmobiling Apps will not show OFSC trails until December 1, 2021, while your subscription to PRO remains valid for 12 months from your date of upgrade purchase.

The OFSC cautions all motorized trail users that OFSC Prescribed Trails on private property are for winter use only by snowmobiles displaying valid Snowmobile Trail Permits. Illegally entering any of these OFSC snowmobile trails in the off-season is not only dangerous, it is also a chargeable act of trespass under Ontario law, so please respect our landowners and stay off.

The OFSC thanks our landowners and club volunteers for making trail riding as enjoyable and safe as possible this past winter, and we look forward to welcoming permit holders back to our trails as they become available for snowmobiling again next season.

 


 

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 Adds Public Health Unit Boundaries To Interactive Trail Guide

Boundary Lines Assist Snowmobilers To Ride Locally Within Their Public Health Region

(Barrie, ON: January 27, 2021) – With winter finally upon us and thousands of kilometres of trails now showing either Green or Yellow on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) for local riding, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has created a new tool to assist snowmobilers.

As of today, we have temporarily added public health region boundaries (blue lines) to the ITG on our website, which are visible in both Trail Network and Trail Status views. They will also show on the Go Snowmobiling Ontario Apps after your next regular data update. The blue boundary lines will help you to stay within your own public health region while riding available OFSC trails and enable you to plan your local rides more easily while complying with public health measures.

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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.”

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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.”

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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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