Snowmobilers excited for season as more Islanders join their ranks

·2 min read

The number of snowmobilers on P.E.I. could be the highest it's ever been as fewer people head south for the winter due to travel restrictions, says the president of the P.E.I. Snowmobile Association.

Dale Hickox said membership is approaching 2,800 or 2,900, a couple hundred more than previous years.

"The enthusiasm is really exciting this year, and I know it has a lot to do with COVID-19. You know, nobody's travelling."

That enthusiasm has been good for sales, as stranded snowbirds replace their snorkels with sleds. Some snowmobile dealers are overwhelmed trying to keep up with demand, Hickox told Mainstreet P.E.I. host Kerry Campbell.

"The used snowmobile market has gone quite high, as well. So because of that demand and because people are going to be staying, I know a few people that have purchased snowmobiles this year that have never had them before."

Natalia Goodwin/CBC
Natalia Goodwin/CBC

It's no surprise, then, that snowmobilers were delighted to see the first major snowfall of winter last weekend.

"There were many, many snowmobilers out on the weekend. They've been itching to go since last season," Hickox said.

However, Hickox said they'd like to see another 15 to 20 centimetres to create a solid base for the Confederation Trail.

Exclusive rights to trail

The snowmobile association has a longstanding lease with the provincial government giving it exclusive rights to the trail during the winter months. The association sells permits for riders to use the trail, which helps pay for maintenance and insurance.

Hickox said people are welcome to walk the trails when there is no snow, but are required to refrain from using it when it is used by snowmobilers.

"It does become a bit of a safety factor with people walking on the trail and, you know, not seeing a snowmobile coming around a corner or one of those large groomer machines."

More from CBC P.E.I.