The Benefits of Being Organized

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By: Craig Nicholson, OFSC Communications

The international snowmobile community recognizes the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs as a world leader. OFSC ideas, programs and campaigns are emulated, copied and applauded.

The OFSC has efficiently and effectively operated the largest recreational trail system on the globe for more than 40 years.

Yet, some Ontario snowmobilers view the OFSC as “the ministry of snowmobiling.” Others are convinced all the OFSC does is line its own pockets. Some take the OFSC for granted, assuming that snowmobile trails will appear magically each winter.

Still others are wary that “they” at the OFSC don’t have the best interests of the rest of “us” at heart. After all, “they” are located in Barrie and couldn’t possibly understand local needs or relate to individual riders.

As a result, too often, there’s a disconnect within our snowmobiling community. And that leads to mistrust, disunity and apathy. Boy, can we be our own worst enemies or what?

The simple fact is that to keep on trail riding in Ontario, we all need to pull together as part of TEAM OFSC. Snowmobiling has more than enough naysayers, critics and competitors on the outside without being dissed by our own.

So it’s time for every snowmobiler to get on board for the greater good of snowmobiling — to keep our recreation activity healthy now and for the future. So let’s take a hard look at the OFSC…

The OFSC was created by local clubs and built as a grassroots-up federation. That means governance, responsibilities and programs are keyed to the needs and demands of its local clubs and volunteers.

These grassroots snowmobilers have both a major stake and say in what the OFSC does and how we operate. Yes, the head office is in Barrie, but there are also 17 district offices, 234 clubs and more than 6,000 volunteers that are very plugged in locally.

These folks work very hard for you. They are the backbone of organized snowmobiling and keep everything focused on the grassroots.

Did I say “organized” snowmobiling? You bet. It wasn’t until early snowmobilers formed the first clubs and organized provincially that everyone benefited. We got a provincial trail system that is legal, linked, mapped, maintained, marked, prepped and opened each winter.

Best of all, it can be accessed for one reasonable fee. Before, local trails weren’t connected and each club charged its own fee for trail use. Often, snowmobilers had no idea where to ride, where snowmobiling was legal or where it was safe.

It took clubs, working through the OFSC, to organize, coordinate, protect and support trail riding in Ontario, and that mission is even more important today.

That’s why the OFSC remains a volunteer-driven, not for profit association… our goal is to allocate all revenues and proceeds for the greater good of snowmobiling.

Other non-profit groups in Ontario are always amazed at how much the OFSC puts on the snow with such a proportionately small investment in administration and overhead. Bottom line: The OFSC delivers great value, very effectively… and all snowmobilers should recognize and appreciate this success.

The OFSC also leads the snowmobile industry in Ontario. When insurance became a major crisis earlier this decade, the OFSC found a way to keep trails insured and open.

With permit revenues falling short of the $20 million or so it costs to operate trails each winter, the OFSC has successfully partnered with all three Ontario political parties that formed the government of the day to invest over $40 million since 1993 in our tourism trails.

And when participation in snowmobiling appeared to be stagnating over the past several seasons, the OFSC developed and spearheaded the Go Snowmobiling Campaign to get more people involved. Without OFSC leadership and vision, snowmobiling’s days would be numbered. Without the OFSC, the snowmobile and winter tourism industries would be bleak. And without the OFSC, Ontario snowmobilers would no longer have trails to ride.

The OFSC is not perfect. We cannot please everyone all the time. We can’t do everything. We can’t control the economy, the weather, the competition, or those opposed. And without your help, ultimately, we can’t succeed.

That’s because the OFSC represents you as a snowmobiler. We are your voice. We lobby for you and operates trails for you… and don’t ask much in return.

The OFSC asks you to assist by purchasing a Snowmobile Trail Permit for every sled you use on our trails. We ask you to sign up for OFSC benefits to get this magazine so that we can communicate with you regularly. And we ask you to be part of TEAM OFSC by supporting the OFSC in thought, word and deed.

That’s not too much to ask in return for the most fun on the snow, is it?

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