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 Safeguards Trail Data

OFSC Safeguards Trail Data to Protect Trails, Groomer Operators, Riders & Landowners

Interactive Trail Guide and Go Snowmobiling Ontario Apps Remain the Only Authorized Source For OFSC Trail Info

(Barrie, ON: November 20, 2020) – Earlier this week, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) announced the release of a new navigation app for its 2021 Ski-Doo snowmobiles named BRP GO!, which has caused some confusion among Ontario snowmobilers. The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) would like to clarify this concern.

During a sales conference in February of 2020, BRP indicated that BRP GO! would contain OFSC trail data. At the time, BRP and the OFSC did not have an agreement to share trail data. Since spring, the OFSC and BRP have engaged in ongoing dialogue regarding opportunities to incorporate OFSC snowmobile trail data in BRP’s new app. The OFSC has had similar, but as yet unresolved discussions with Polaris over the authorized use of Ontario trail data on its Ride Command App.

Although discussions with BRP have been productive, the OFSC has not been able to come to an agreement that would enable BRP to move ahead this season. The principal issue is that technological barriers associated with BRP GO! fail to address safety and risk management concerns particular to Ontario snowmobile trails regarding the presentation of real-time trail data and information – a serious shortcoming identified by the OFSC for the protection of its trails, groomer operators, riders and landowners. Of note, the OFSC did offer BRP and other OEMs the opportunity to display the OFSC Go Snowmobiling Ontario app on their devices, which was refused. As a result, the OFSC declined the opportunity to share our data to BRP for this season but committed to continue to work with BRP to find a solution for next year.

The OFSC understands that technology, snowmobilers and connectivity are progressing at a rapid pace and we encourage this development for the benefit of everyone involved in the industry. We remain hopeful that in time, BRP may be able to find a solution to their issues and ensure the consistent and timely delivery of authorized Ontario trail data and information. It is essential for rider safety and land use securement that trail changes appear on these apps in real-time. This capability is especially important for the coming winter, given the high potential for Flex Trail changes in some public health regions.

For over 15 years, the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) has been the sole source for snowmobile trail availability information in the province. Ontario snowmobilers are accustomed to viewing the ITG for accurate trail updates and safety information. The OFSC is committed to ensuring that the distribution of ITG data through all websites or apps remains consistent.

The OFSC wants to reassure Ontario snowmobilers of our continuing intention to seek resolution to the data sharing issue, provided that all concerns are successfully addressed. For the only accurate and complete trail data authorized for this season, the OFSC invites snowmobilers to download the Go Snowmobiling Ontario App Free or PRO version in Android or iOS, available December 1st.

 


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

OFSC Launches Ride Smart 2021 For Safe & Healthy Snowmobiling

Together We Can Help Keep Trails & Services Open This Winter

What’s Included:
• Doing Our Part
• 4 Steps For Stopping
• Riding Prepared
• Preventing The Spread

(Barrie, ON: November 5, 2020) – The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is committed to delivering the best possible trail riding experiences for snowmobilers this winter. In accordance with the latest information from Public Health Ontario, the OFSC’s pandemic response plan is enabling our districts, clubs & volunteers to do everything possible to make the provincial trail system available to ride, while respecting and protecting the snowbelt communities, hospitality providers and residents that serve OFSC trails.

Doing Our Part To Keep Trails & Services Open – To make this work, we snowmobilers must also do 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 stop along the way. 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 is launching Ride Smart 2021, a common sense approach to help snowmobilers work together to keep the fun happening!

4 Steps for Stopping –We all want to keep trails and services available this winter, so let’s make sure we and our riding companions get with these easy, Ride Smart 2021 steps during any interactions with others when stopping while trailering to the snow or during our trail rides:

1. Physical Distancing – Indoors or out, keep a minimum of 2 m (6’) apart at all times, with no direct contact.
2. Face Covering – Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth when not wearing a helmet, except while eating or drinking.
3. Hand Cleaning – Carry personal hand sanitizer and use it often.
4. Occupancy Limits –Avoid overcrowding, especially inside hospitality services with capacity restrictions in place.

Riding Prepared – For rides this winter, Ride Smart 2021 also advises that we:

• Be open-minded and flexible to adapt our ride planning to new challenges this winter.
• Form our own regular “riding bubble” of like-minded, socially responsible snowmobilers.
• Avoid any trails temporarily unavailable due to local public health unit restrictions.
• Plan ahead carefully for rest stops and washroom facilities.
• Check in advance to ensure that expected services are open to visitors at the time of our ride.
• Before leaving, double check the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) to reconfirm the status of the trails.
• Carry extra fuel for each sled.
• Bring snacks and non-alcoholic drinks to consume trailside and take our garbage out with us.

Preventing The Spread: I Won’t Ride Any Trails If –

• I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and/or am not feeling well. I’ll stay home until I am fully recovered. Same goes if I live in the same household with someone who has COVID-19 or is showing symptoms of COVID- 19.
• I have just returned from travel outside of Canada. I’ll self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days before riding OFSC trails.

Ride Smart 2021 also advises all snowmobilers to check with our local Public Health Unit prior to every ride. Pandemic information is constantly evolving, so throughout the coming season, Ride Smart 2021 recommends snowmobilers check the ITG and Go Snowmobiling Apps regularly and frequently to plan our rides and reconfirm our routes before starting each morning.

Together, We Can Do This – Let’s Ride Smart 2021!

 


 

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 Updates Snowmobilers On Flex Trails & Recent Pandemic Developments

Flex Trails Provide Permit Buyers With Many Opportunities To Hit The Snow This Winter

What’s Included:
Trails To Ride 2021 Plan Components
• Pandemic & OFSC Trails
• Flex Trails & How They Work
• Looking Ahead to Winter

(Barrie, ON: October 22, 2020) – In prior releases, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) announced and updated its comprehensive Trails To Ride 2021 plan, focused on working through these challenging times to deliver the best possible trail riding experiences on as many trails as possible this winter with the cooperation of all snowmobilers.

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 permit sales, plus pandemic response for the health and safety of volunteers, snowmobilers, landowners and snowbelt communities and enhanced communications with 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.

Continue reading

10 YEARS OF DATA REVEAL POOR BEHAVIOURS BEHIND MAJORITY OF SNOWMOBILE FATALITIES

(ORILLIA, ON) – With Snowmobile Safety Week underway this week, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has released a ten-year data report on snowmobile fatalities, which officers hope will encourage snowmobilers to avoid the recurring behaviours that contributed to the majority of the incidents over the past decade.

During the past 10 snowmobile seasons (2009-2019), the OPP has investigated 175 snowmobile fatalities throughout the province. Among the findings in the report, excessive speed, loss of control, driving too fast for the conditions and ability impaired by alcohol were listed as the top contributing factors. In fact, alcohol was involved in almost half (45 per cent) of the deaths.

Another compelling fact is that almost half (45 per cent) of the snowmobilers who died were traveling on frozen lakes or rivers at the time of the incident. The circumstances that led to the deaths include intentionally driving onto open water (puddle jumping/water skipping), breaking through the ice and collisions with other snowmobiles and natural landmarks. (See complete data graphic below).

“Whether you are a beginner or seasoned snowmobiler, it is important to avoid all manner of risk while enjoying the thousands of kilometres of diverse, scenic snowmobile trails Ontario has to offer. Maintaining control of your snowmobile at all times and never making alcohol or drugs part of your ride will go a long way to keeping snowmobilers and their passengers safe this season.” — Vijay Thanigasalam, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation

“Our OFSC Interactive Trail Guide is an excellent tool for keeping snowmobilers well-informed about the status of trails throughout Ontario. The OFSC, in partnership with the OPP is counting on all snowmobilers to take full responsibility for their own safety as well as the safety of their passengers and fellow riders this season.” — Andrew WALASEK, Director, Stakeholder Relations, OFSC

The OPP is reminding operators that no ice is safe ice. All riders should ensure they use proper safety equipment in addition to wearing appropriate outerwear for the environmental conditions they may encounter. Snowmobile Safety Week runs from January 18 to 26, 2020.

HELPFUL LINKS

Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs

Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations

OPP Contact: Sergeant Paul Potter, Coordinator, Specialized Patrol Phone: (705) 329-7660

OFSC Contact: Andrew Walasek Director, Stakeholder Relations, Phone: (705) 739-7669