OPP stressing snowmobile safety

The OPP would like to remind local residents about some of the municipal bylaws that govern the use of snowmobiles within town limits.
The bylaws state:
•No person shall operate a motorized snow vehicle in the town unless the operation of the vehicle is for the purpose of proceeding to or returning from a point outside of Fort Frances;
•No person shall drive a motorized snow vehicle along or upon any public property, pathway, or footpath used by or set apart for the use of pedestrians;
•No person shall operate a motorized snow vehicle in the Town of Fort Frances at a speed in excess of 25 km/h;
•All motorized snow vehicles shall be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise or excessive smoke;
•No person under the age of 16 years shall drive a motorized snow vehicle within the limits of town; and
•No person shall drive a motorized snow vehicle within the corporate limits of the town after 11 p.m. and not before 6 a.m. Sunday to Thursday, and between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Motorized snow vehicle owners and operators also must comply with the provisions of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, which includes possessing a licence, registration, insurance, and trail permit on OFSC trails.
Sledders also are reminded that alcohol, excessive speed, unstable ice on waterways, and the absence of safety equipment all are contributing factors in snowmobile-related injuries and deaths.
OPP detachment commander Insp. Dave Lucas advised the public that officers across Rainy River District will continue to patrol area lakes and trails this season.
He also encouraged the public to report any unsafe or careless snowmobiling incidents to the police by dialing *OPP by cell phone or 1-888-310-1122.
In related news, town council referred a request from the Fort Frances Police Services Board to amend Bylaw 66/90-B (snowmobile access routes) to the Planning and Development executive committee for review and its recommendation.
In a report from the Police Services Board received by council Monday night, the board explained Insp. Lucas requested Section 12 a). of the bylaw be removed.
This section states: “No person shall drive a motorized snow vehicle within the corporate limits of the town until such time as the chief of police has officially proclaimed he current season for operation of snow vehicles to have commenced.
“The Chief of Police shall make said proclamation in each year that this bylaw is in force.”
Insp. Lucas explained Monday afternoon that the reasons for his request were several—the main one being the clause seemed “antiquated.”
“I’m not aware of any other jurisdictions in Northwestern Ontario where the OPP detachment commander or chief of police declares the season open,” he remarked.
“This responsibility is left up to the riders to determine when it is safe to do so,” he added. “Of course, they must ensure it’s safe before they ride anywhere on their snowmachines by checking area trails and ice conditions.
“I also don’t want to prevent people from enjoying this winter activity if I’m not available on a particular day to declare the season open,” continued Insp. Lucas.
“There is also an issue of how to communicate this to everyone who is entitled to operate a snowmachine within the town boundaries.”
Insp. Lucas also said he’s checked into this particular clause in the bylaw and found “there is no information to support that this declaration has been taking place over the past few years.”