P.E.I. snowmobilers hopeful for a good season after 3 'tough' winters

After three poor snowmobiling seasons, the steady snow so far this winter has Island riders revved up and ready to go.

"It is starting to add up, once this cold weather comes, it's supposed to start tonight, groomers will be going 24/7 to get these trails in great shape," said Dale Hickox, president of the P.E.I. Snowmobile Association. 

"The weather forecast for the next 10 days looks outstanding, we should be able to have a trail system in place for all of our members."

Hickox said the last several years have been poor. "Extremely tough, for us as an organization," said Hickox. "We as volunteers on this board, we're also avid snowmobilers, and you look forward to the three months of winter and it just hasn't happened."

Hickox said there's "a little more optimism than we've had in the last three years."

Natalia Goodwin/CBC

The association sells permits for riders to be able to go on the Confederation Trail. They cost $200 before Dec. 31 and $300 afterward. Without them you can face a fine of up to $500. The recent poor winters have affected the association's early permit sales. 

"We've really seen the effects this year, our permit sales are down about 20 per cent. And it's just that people are discouraged because of the last three years of no snow," Hickox said. 

"The fortunate thing is that on the years when there's not much snow we don't have a lot of expenses grooming, so we're in decent shape to make sure we get the trails groomed even if it snows from now until the end of March."

Sales of machines up 

Natalia Goodwin/CBC

The early snow has been good news for those selling machines too.

"This year it has been much better than the last two," said Blair VanOmme, sales representative at Green Diamond Equipment.

"There was good energy right from the beginning. As soon as the snow started people seemed to be excited that snow was coming and they were looking for new or used machines."

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