JUNE 6, 2011: Snowcrest seeks town land for shop/clubhouse

The Snowcrest Riders Snowmobile Club is hoping to establish a more permanent location in the community for its operation.

Snowcrest president Bob Clarke recently asked town council to donate nearly four acres of land to the club for a clubhouse and maintenance shop. He asked that the land be provided through a low-cost lease. The facility would be constructed to provide storage and office space for the club.

Clarke said the Gravenhurst-based snowmobile club is the largest club of 11 in Muskoka based on its trail network and number of permits sold, but is one of a very few without a site to store and maintain the equipment the club and the community relies on.

He said during the winter months, the club runs its industrial groomers practically every night.

“Our operators and mechanics are forced to work on equipment in temperatures most of us would be reluctant to walk a block in,” said Clarke.

The club recently identified town land off Industrial Drive as an ideal location for a shop/clubhouse as it is adjacent to the club’s main C101D trail. The land is situated between Bethune Drive and the CN rail line and runs down to the Hoc Roc River.

“We’re requesting that the property be designated and leased to the club…” Clarke explained to council. “If we can lease this land, we don’t assume the land tax.”

If the club were to assume ownership of the land, Clarke said money to cover the property taxes would come off the quality of trails.

He suggested the town could cover the cost of any required survey work and waive municipal fees associated with the project.

Clarke reinforced the benefits of an active snowmobiling community, stating snowmobilers spend $3 million annually in the area.

“We want sledders to not just pass through, but to come back and stay,” he said.

He encouraged the town to work together with the club to promote snowmobiling in Gravenhurst.

“We need the Town of Gravenhurst to recognize the tourism and economic benefits Snowcrest brings to the town each year,” he said. “We’re asking the town to help us help support our community.”

Councillors were keen on the concept, but decided to wait for a report from a planning and financial perspective before making a decision. Planning staff are also contacting CN Rail regarding any potential issues.

“I support the idea,” said Coun. Randy Jorgensen, adding it’s an opportunity for the sport to grow in town. “The definition of a snowmobiler is one riding around with pockets full of cash looking for places to spend it.”

Coun. Lola Bratty encouraged Snowcrest Riders to contact the immediate neighbours to get them on side.

“Other than the construction phase, we don’t see the noise being any more than it would be now,” Clarke responded.

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