Today a special meeting was held in a conference room at the Residence Inn Marriott at the Muskoka Wharf. All local sledders, businesses, and interested parties were invited to attend to discuss this year’s funding shortfall and plans for moving forward. Approximately two dozen people attended, including two Town Councillors (Sandy Cairns and Randy Jorgensen), most of the Snowcrest directors, and quite a few club members.
Several people commented that they would like to see the club work closer on getting everyone involved. Suggestions were made about holding events such as a corn roast or trail side barbeques, along with our existing important annual fundraisers, such as the Snowcrest Pancake Breakfast at Walker’s Point, the June Golf Tournament, and the Poker Run that we held on the weekend of the P.E.T. Ride last winter. It was also mentioned that people would like to see regular Saturday group rides to encourage members to get together and enjoy some sledding. Several people expressed an interest in volunteering to help the club in various ways. We will increase our use of this web site and other forms of electronic communication to help build on our existing volunteer base.
In terms of donations, a very generous “white knight” led the way, and several other individuals and businesses stepped up to the plate with generous contributions of their own. The sense at the end of the meeting was that the current cash crunch has served as a rallying point that will allow our club to pull together, and work toward becoming stronger than ever. Thank you very much to everyone who attended, and all those who dug into their pocketbooks before or during the meeting. Our fundraising and other club-building efforts will continue.
Snowcrest Riders has been forced to reach out for cash donations. With the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs’ decision to reduce permit prices (intended to encourage more people to buy permits), this year a sledder could pay 180 bucks and sled for thousands of kilometres of trails. The OFSC made other changes to the financial model as well, which caused a significant reduction in the percentage of trail permit revenue that was available to Snowcrest Riders.
Only 30% of permit revenue stayed with the local club, which was a considerably smaller percentage than in previous years. 70% of permit revenue was remitted to the OFSC. After the OFSC looked after the HUGE insurance cost and other major expenses best handled at the provincial level, Equalization Payments came back to our district (District 7), so funds could be distributed back to the 11 clubs within our district. Trail grooming is the main local expense, and as it turned out, the amount of permit revenue that eventually filtered back to Snowcrest was too low to cover this winter’s high grooming hours. Snowcrest had 14.5% of District 7’s trails, grooming hours, and permit sales, but each of the 11 clubs received an identical 9.1% of the District’s equalization payment. Higher than normal grooming hours, lowered permit prices, a reduced percentage of permit revenue going back to our District, and a further reduced percentage of the District amount being returned to Snowcrest, put our club in a real bind.
The Snowcrest Riders club sold close to a thousand trail permits to area riders last winter, and we are hopeful that some of these riders, or businesses that benefit from sledding, will see fit to make a one-time financial contribution to the club, so we can get back into the black and stay in operation.
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.
SEVERN RIVER — Snowmobiling enthusiast Blake Schofield has been recognized with the Outstanding Rookie Award by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) for his volunteer service with a local snowmobile club.
At 15 years, Schofield is one of the youngest members of the Snowcrest Riders Snowmobile Club and the youngest rookie award recipient out of OFSC’s 232 clubs in the province.
The Severn River teen started volunteering with Snowcrest in 2009 and added another 500-plus hours in 2010. Before he graduates from Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School, he hopes to record 1,000 volunteer hours.
Schofield was selected as the club rookie of the year for 2009/10 by Snowcrest’s board of directors. The board then successfully nominated him for the OFSC District 7 rookie volunteer of the year award.
“Snowcrest Riders has never seen a young volunteer as energetic, enthusiastic and willing to learn all aspects of club operations as Blake Schofield,” Snowcrest president Bob Clarke wrote in his nomination.
It was a surprise for Schofield to later receive provincial recognition at the OFSC annual general meeting in September. It was a well kept secret for more than three months.
“I didn’t know I had been nominated for the award,” he said. “I was really shocked. I didn’t know what to say.”
Schofield fell in love with snowmobiling when he was 11 years old and after a one-day course obtained his licence to legally ride the OFSC trails when he was 12.
He is the only one in his family to take up snowmobiling and has saved his money over the past four years to be able to purchase multiple sleds.
Snowmobiling is his preferred winter activity.
“I used to snowshoe and toboggan and cross-country ski, but now I snowmobile with my friends every weekend,” he said.
Of getting involved with the Snowcrest club, Schofield said he volunteers his time because of the friends he has been able to make through the many activities.
“Definitely it’s the people,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of good people.” Before getting involved with Snowcrest, Schofield sold permits at a snowmobile show through the Volunteers in Action booth.
His volunteer work with the club is not just restricted to the winter months. In the spring and fall he has helped with signage and brushing, and helps through the snowmobile season with grooming the trails, staking the lakes, helping to sell permits, distributing trail maps, and reporting local trail conditions through online snowmobile forums.
He first got involved when the club was finalizing a section of the Top D trail surrounding the 240-foot Beaver Creek bridge that opened last winter.
He has participated in the club’s Easter Seals for Snowarama ride and raised $150 in pledges during the Prostate Extreme Team ride in Parry Sound last month.
Eager to learn more about snowmobile operations, he also saved up $200 from cutting grass to attend a workshop during the OFSC’s AGM.
“I want to stay with it,” he said of volunteering. “I would like to get more involved with District 7 and go to some of their meetings.”
At OFSC’s AGM, the Snowcrest club received four of the 12 awards. The club was also one of four nominated for OFSC’s club of the year award.
Next year’s Family Day could see a lot of sledders in town.
Gravenhurst will host the 2012 Prostate Extreme Team Charity Ride, Snowcrest Riders Snowmobile Club president Bob Clarke has learned.
The local club has been working to attract the organization’s annual Sled Ride of Hope, which this year was held in Parry Sound on Saturday.
“It’s growing,” Clarke said of the event that raises funding for prostate cancer research. “It’s becoming comparable to the Kelly Shires Ride for Breast Cancer.”
Accommodation for the event will be provided by the Marriott Residence Inn at Muskoka Wharf.
For the past six years, a group of Kahshe Lake snowmobilers banded together to run their own ride to benefit the extreme team’s cause.
The group of about 16 riders has raised $20,000 over six years.
Now they are looking forward to hitting the trails with the main event next year.
Michael Wayling explained the Kahshe Lakers had wanted to participate, but issues with trailering snowmobiles made it difficult to travel to where the ride is held.
“Now we can sled over there (to the Marriott) and participate, or stay for the weekend,” said Wayling. “Won’t have to worry about how we get to the main event, it’s coming to us.”
Steve Hutton, Prostate Extreme Team founder, said the group receives a lot of community requests to host the event.
“I wanted to be in Gravenhurst for a while, but we never had the accommodations,” said Hutton. “The Marriott was the game changer.”
He’s expecting 75 to 100 sledders to help the team reach its annual fundraising goal of $20,000.
“On average we see 65 to 75 riders, but Gravenhurst may be a lot different because it’s further south and a little more central,” said Hutton.
In 2010, the event’s fifth year running the trails, nearly $15,000 was raised for Wellspring Halton/Peel, Wellspring Chinguacousy Foundation and Prostate Cancer Canada.
The Prostate Extreme Team is a non-profit organization run by volunteer outdoor enthusiasts to bring awareness to the disease that is as prevalent to men as breast cancer is to women.
An estimated one in six men will be diagnosed with the disease within their lifetime.
Men 40 years and older are encouraged to undergo annual testing as early detection can save lives.
South Muskoka – Although the snow has been gone and the trails have been closed for several weeks, Gravenhurst’s local snowmobile club Snowcrest Riders is now wrapping up the 2010 snowmobile season. We would like to take this time to thank the many people behind the scenes that each year have supported your local snowmobile club, which has just been nominated as the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs 2009/2010 Club of the Year.
Thank you to:
The many businesses that support us by purchasing map ads space, sponsoring or donating to our special events throughout the year. Thank you for your generous contributions;
Snowcrest volunteers who work in wet, cold and generally undesirable conditions to help us get the trails open as soon as possible. To our other volunteers who donate their time and many other skills to ensure as a club we are continuously improving and working with and for our community;
Our groomer operators who spend their winter nights out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a cellphone and two-way radio protecting them from the -30 C temperatures and other winter conditions that they are presented with;
Snowcrest Riders board of directors who make the decisions determining all the workings of the club, from when the grooming will begin to coordinating the special events;
The Town of Gravenhurst, who has worked closely with Snowcrest Riders and assisted with the new bridge over Beaver Creek and other major trails reroutes and upgrades;
To our landowners who selflessly donate a part of their land each season to our almost 300 kilometres of well-groomed, safe trails. They help with the winter economy in Gravenhurst, assisting with keeping the Gravenhurst community employed, and our favourite local businesses sustainable during the winter months.
Each of you are an integral piece of the giant picture and with each of us working together, we are positive contributors to our community. We help ensure that our community remains a premier winter destination for family recreation. Everyone involved should be proud of their contribution.
Snowcrest Riders would not and could not maintain the trails in south Muskoka without all of us working together as one. Gravenhurst does not have ski hills, tubing hills or snowboarding hills. Gravenhurst has snowmobiling. Snowmobiling is arguably the No. 1 economic engine for tourism in the Gravenhurst area.
With much thanks to all of you we can again celebrate another very successful season. We look forward to working with all of you again for the 2011 season.
NEW BRIDGE. Snowmobilers cross the new 240-foot bridge over Beaver Creek on the picturesque Top D Trans Canada Trail in Gravenhurst. Although it was completed before the 2009-10 season began, the bridge was officially reopened last Wednesday. Photo by Allyson Snelling
GRAVENHURST — It’s official. The 2009-10 snowmobile season has been great for Snowcrest Riders.
Bob Clarke, president of the Gravenhurst-area snowmobile club, said the club has much to celebrate going forward in 2010 after two significant investments.
On Wednesday, club representatives gathered with volunteers and members of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club’s District 7, to commemorate the official reopening of the snowmobile bridge over Beaver Creek.
The nearly $400,000 bridge, which is located on the picturesque Top D Trans Canada Trail in Gravenhurst, replaces the bridge removed in 2006 after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans declared it violated the Federal Fisheries Act.
The bridge’s construction disrupted a cold-water fish habitat, DFO said.
The Town of Gravenhurst was fined $5,000 in the incident.
The new bridge, funded equally by the National Trails Coalition and OFSC, was constructed last year in late summer and early fall by Fowler Construction, Clarke said.
It reopens and improves more than 30 kilometres of snowmobile and shared-use trail, where permitted, by addressing safety concerns with the previous route, which ran onto Doe Lake Road, he explained.
Clarke said the excessive road running caused damage to snowmobiles. When the trail closed approximately four years ago, it deterred snowmobilers from visiting the community, he added.
“The new, 240-foot bridge will allow for the trail route to be relocated off of busy concession roads and into a much more secure and scenic area,” said Clarke. “The project will greatly enhance provincial riding opportunities.”
The club began preparing for the project two and a half years ago. It made a commitment to OFSC trail permit buyers that it would be shovel ready, should funding become available for a new bridge.
Tony Clement, Parry Sound-Muskoka MP, was pleased the federal government’s stimulus fund could provide the monies needed to replace the original crossing.
He said the bridge is important for the economy, Muskoka’s tourism and safe snowmobiling.
In addition to the bridge, Snowcrest Riders this season also received a 2005 Pisten Bully groomer, valued at approximately $100,000, through the OFSC’s industrial groomer program fund. The OFSC grant funded about 80 per cent of the groomer, with Snowcrest covering about 20 per cent of the cost. The third groomer for the club, the Pisten Bully replaces a 2003 groomer that struggled to perform necessary grooming.
Trail permit sales dropped about 10 per cent, but Snowcrest anticipates selling more than 1,000 trail permits this season.
Norm Woods, OFSC District 7 president, attributed the decline in sales to the late snowfall this winter and the economy
My first year as Club President has been quite a learning experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with our Board, Club Volunteers, and Groomer Operators. Our Club has been more involved with supporting the Community, increased social events, and has established a great working relationship with other Clubs in District 7.
At my first Board meeting as Club President, my first order of business was to make it perfectly clear to our directors that to be successful, Snowcrest Riders Snowmobile Club must collectively as a Board make the decisions that affect this organization. As Permit buyers / Club members, we appreciate your input, ideas, and suggestions to base some of our decisions on.
You will notice that our 2009 Trail map will Read the rest of this entry »