MAPLETON - The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) and the Lake Conestoga Snowmobilers have finally agreed to allow snowmobile use on 13 kilometres of trails in Mapleton Township.
GRCA, OFSC and the Lake Conestoga Snowmobilers have been trying to get into an agreement for two years after OFSC found that the volunteer based snowmobile clubs signed agreements with the GRCA that were outside of the OFSC commercial general liability insurance policy. Ultimately, exposing volunteers to uninsured risks.
“A lot of misconceptions out there are that our organization had an insurance change and wanted the agreement changed, and that’s untrue,” said Karen Buratynski, manager of OFSC District 9.
“What happened two years ago is that we had our parent organization look at the insurance agreement and flagged the clauses that were outside of what we can cover, and we respectfully went to the GRCA. We asked them to modify the terms of agreement, so we’re only providing commercial general liability insurance for activities normal to a snowmobile club.
We also advised them that we could not insure all the other users they were inviting to the trails nor could we insure them for any negligence on behalf of their organization. This is why we couldn’t come to an agreement for parcels of land where they allow snowmobile users.”
In the summer of 2019, District 9 snowmobile clubs in Mapleton, Wellington North and Centre Wellington were informed their insurance policy no longer met obligations outlined in agreements with the GRCA.
From 2019 up until 2021, both sides were unable to come into agreement, and as a result, 47 kilometres of snowmobile trails on GRCA property throughout the county were taken off any snowmobile trail maps; nobody could use these trails.
The GRCA reviewed its trail network and recommended trails not open to the general public and limited use be considered for snowmobiles.
They came to the conclusion that only the 13 kilometres of trail which runs from northwest and southeast along Conestoga Lake in Mapleton met the recommendation and can only be used for snowmobiles.
The agreement also includes access to a clubhouse on the property in Mapleton.
However, the remaining 34 kilometres of trails on other GRCA property within the county, including 14km in Wellington North, remain a no-go for snowmobiling.
“We had respectfully asked the GRCA to reinstate all 47 kilometres of trails, but when we started going down the road of discussion, it was fairly quickly determined that at this point in time, we are only able to come to an agreement of 13 kilometres of trail use,” explained Buratynski.
The GRCA has still not accepted some risk and liability exposure to their insurance liability policy, according to Buratynski.
Angelica Babiera, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com