WCSTA VP says ‘close to opening our trails’

WEST CARLETON – The West Carleton Snowmobile Trails Association (WCSTA) vice president says the organization is very close to opening all the trails in Ontario.

It has  been a frustrating start to the sledding season locally as roughly a quarter of local WCSTA snowmobile trails, as well as those across the province, have been closed due to an insurance issue with municipalities and insurance providers.

WCSTA vice president Paul McDonald had some good news for those itching to get out on the sleds and enjoy the season.

“We are very close to opening our trails,” McDonald released in a statement yesterday (Feb. 6). “Today we reached agreement with the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and the Insurance providers on the terms of our Licence of Occupation with the City of Ottawa and Insurance for trails on City of Ottawa property.”

McDonald said they are hoping to provide more good news soon.

“We will hear in the morning (Feb. 7) about receiving our Certificate of Insurance and then we can open trails in the City of Ottawa that are packed and ready to go,” he said. “We will put trails on the Interactive Trail Guide as they are opened. Stay tuned for an announcement tomorrow morning.”

McDonald says It has been “very difficult getting agreement on some snowmobiling issues during our discussions.”

Between 2009 and 2019, 45 per cent of the 175 snowmobile deaths in the province were alcohol related the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) stated in a recently released 10-year data report. Another number shows 45 per cent of victims were travelling on frozen waterways at the time of their fatal incident.

“Your individual riding habits are the greatest risk to all snowmobile clubs losing access to insurance and trails across Ontario,” McDonald said. “We as club members and snowmobilers must contribute to keeping our trails open. This means slow down in built up areas. No loud starts in built up areas and around houses. Respect other trail users. Stay on the trail.”

Safe and respectful operation of snowmobiles is critical for future negotiations and insurance coverage.

“Our future negotiations with landowners, municipalities, insurance companies and others now depends on each and every one of our behaviors on the trails,” McDonald said. “Let it snow and enjoy your trails. your board of directors and volunteers have worked very hard to get your trails open. Let’s keep them open.”

Coun. Eli El-Chantiry provided an update earlier today (Feb. 7).

“Received an update today relating to the opening of the snowmobile trails in our area,” El-Chantiry released in a statement. “The snowmobile clubs west of the Rideau River – West Carleton, BEAST and Rideau – are good to go and you will likely see trail grooming activities starting soon.”