Muskoka Lakes Snowtrails club raising $10,000 for new grooming equipment

·2 min read

The Muskoka Lakes Snow Trail Association is looking to raise $10,000 to pay for the right equipment to fix their tricky snow trails for sledders this season.

Steven Elliott, vice president of the association, said volunteers spend hundreds of hours every year grooming and maintaining trails in Port Carling, Bala, Moonbridge and Bass Lake. He said they pay a lot for special equipment to groom and maintain trails in the swampy lands of Muskoka Lakes.

“If we, as volunteers, want to put together the best product that we can for our riders, then we need this equipment,” Elliott said.

According to Elliott, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), the non-profit organization financing their club and 230 others in the province, will not cover the expenses of this equipment. The federation declined a request for an interview or comment.

The first week of January, the club began a fundraiser to purchase a Skandic Wide Track Utility Snowmobile and a small drag to be pulled behind the machine. The retail price of this Ski-Doo snowmobile begins at $10,099. As of Monday afternoon, Jan. 18, they’ve raised $1,800 via their GoFundMe page.

“This is one of the first times we’ve really reached out … or done anything like this,” he said. “The reality is that the permit money people pay doesn’t go far enough to fund some of these types of equipment expenses.”

People pay for a snowmobile permit, or season pass, to utilize the trails in the winter. A regular season pass currently costs $270.

That money goes toward the grooming and preparation of the trails, including the purchase, fuelling and operation of purpose-built industrial groomers. However, Elliott said the funding doesn’t pay for utility snowmobiles, small drags or brushing equipment.

Elliott said the club doesn’t have statistics on how many riders use their trails, but said OFSC's District 7, from Georgian Bay to Algonquin Park, sells 5,000 to 6,000 permits annually. Elliott said the club hopes they’ll receive support from the thousands who use trails like theirs for snowmobiling in Muskoka.

Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com