Snowmobile club to consider shutting down

This weekend, the Sunset Country Snowmobile Club will consider whether to shut down its network of about 400 km of trails because of a lack of funding.
The club is facing a dwindling amount of trail permit sales and, facing a move by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs to recover from huge liability insurance increases by hiking permit fees again, past-president Jerry Darvell said the local club no longer may be viable.
“The problem we have here, I think, lies in the fact that $100 was the breaking point for our club,” he said. “At $100 [permits] sold but over that they’ve become a harder and harder sell.”
Darvell noted the OFSC, of which the local club is a subsidiary, is facing a liability insurance hike to roughly $3.2 million from $400,000 last year.
That could mean up to a $30 increase on this year’s permits in the form of an “increased rider” fee on top of the current price of $120 if purchased before Dec. 1, or $150 after that date.
“We truly believe that they are way out of line, yearly permits are way out of line,” argued Darvell. “As a club, we don’t feel we’ll be able to sell any permits this year.”
Darvell addressed town council here last night as it considered a resolution from the Sunset Country Tourism Association asking for support of a Kenora Chamber of Commerce resolution calling for a reduction in the price of visitor snowmobile permits in Northwestern Ontario.
The sales of visitors’ permits also have dwindled in Northwestern Ontario, according to area clubs.
“I can tell you that the current visitor permit fee structure is killing winter tourism,” wrote SCTA executive director Gerry Cariou.
“Customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Manitoba feel the price is way out of line with other snowmobile destinations and simply refuse to come here as a result.”
Fort Frances passed a resolution in support of the letter.
The Emo Snowmobile Club, which runs about 100 km of trails, will continue as usual this year.
Club member Dave Goodman said the club will not raise alarms over another fee increase until the OFSC officially decides how it will cover the cost of insurance increases.
“We selected a new executive and we are up-and-running,” said Goodman. “There’s a possibility of that, but my feeling is why blow it out of proportion and scare everybody away until it happens.
“Liability has gone up 30 percent of the overall budget and they’re scrambling right now,” he added.