Press Release –
Snowmobile club volunteers across Ontario will be blitzing OFSC trails this winter to check for permits and to promote safe snowmobiling. According to the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), hundreds of S.T.O.P. (Snowmobile Trail Officer Patrol) and Trail Patrol members will be out in full force to spearhead a massive new effort to promote the OFSC’s user pay system.
“Ontario law stipulates that any sled traveling off of its home property to enter an OFSC trail for the purpose of recreational snowmobiling must have and display a valid permit,” stated Bill Harrison, OFSC Manager of Safety and Public Education. “Many snowmobilers generously support their local clubs by purchasing a trail permit, so we’re targeting the minority who try to cheat everyone else by entering an OFSC trail without paying for that privilege.”
The blitz effort includes a multiple series of new province-wide Checkpoint Weekends, often in cooperation with local police services.
Here, S.T.O.P. and Trail patrol will set up coordinated, on-trail spot checks, similar to what the R.I.D.E. program does. The OFSC is heavily promoting these Checkpoint Initiatives on local radio, on The Weather Network and through the snowmobiling media.
“We’re giving everyone fair warning in advance about the Checkpoints, because there will be no tolerance for recreational sleds without permits on OFSC trails this winter,” said Harrison, “and because the penalties are steep — fines range from $200 to $1,000 plus costs!”
Given that the OFSC and its clubs invest over $20 Million and hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer hours each winter to operate and maintain snowmobile trails, permit enforcement is crucial. The permit fee has not increased for the past three seasons, because the OFSC believes that strong enforcement is preferable to raising the price.
“It’s not fair to charge more to law-abiding riders who already buy a permit if everyone’s not paying their fair share toward trail operating costs,” concluded Harrison. “There are many places other than OFSC trails that do not require a permit to ride, but we are insisting that everyone who rides our trails recreationally must comply with the law.”
Another new element of this winter’s blitz effort is that the OFSC has assembled special teams of OFSC S.T.O.P. members, who are sworn in as Special Constables and Provincial Offences Officers, to travel to regions where a greater trail enforcement presence is required.
In addition to their provincial mandate to enforce provisions of the “Motorize Snow Vehicles Act”, these S.T.O.P. officers also assist police in sobriety spot checks in accordance with the Criminal Code of Canada.
Snowmobiling on OFSC trails is a tremendous way to enjoy the winter and see breathtaking scenery with family and friends; statistics clearly show that staying on the trail is by far the safest way to ride, but the OFSC encourages riders to get legal first.