Sledders refusing to pay clubs for grooming, facilities; one club will stop grooming at the end of the month
Unless snowmobilers change their attitudes and start chipping in to support local clubs and their efforts to groom trails and maintain parking lots, its going to be a bumpy ride for trail users.
Both the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club and the Powder Mountain Snowboard Club are attempting to pass some of their own costs onto the sledders using the trails. The clubs have secured the right to maintain and manage the Rutherford and Brandywine trail networks through agreements with the Ministry of Forests. But their reception so far has been mixed at best, with some snowmobilers refusing to pay.
The clubs are discouraged, but believe trail users will warm up to the fees once they understand why they are necessary.
That might be too late for one trail area. Don Gamache of the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club, says the group will stop grooming trails at the end of February unless things change in the next few weeks.
"Up in the Rutherford, the club has had a forest service management agreement to look after the Rutherford trails and what were trying to do is to groom it once a week to keep the trail from becoming a mogul field," said Gamache. "And what were getting is a bunch of guys who figure they shouldnt be paying. Theyre blowing past the girl we have at the bottom, shes getting verbally abused and all the rest of it."
The PVSC pays anywhere from $1,000 to $1,300 a week to have the trails groomed. Although the trail is shorter this year with plows keeping the way clear for the construction of a run-of-river hydro project, the money the club saves in grooming is off-set by the increased cost of getting the machine to the trail head, says Gamache.
Some of that money, up to $300 a week, also goes towards paying the pass seller at the parking lot not a lot considering the conditions and the abuse she puts up with, said Gamache.
The PVSC has had a management agreement with the Ministry of Forests for the past five years. Under that agreement the club is responsible for maintaining the trails. According to Gamache, that means an estimated $18,000 a year for grooming, maintaining the emergency hut, and trail building and repairing during the summer months.
In the past couple of years the club has paid $25,000 to build a new section of trail making the Pemberton Ice Cap more accessible. They also put another $20,000 into the emergency shelter.