posted: December 20, 2019
Headingley Headliner: Many people will soon enjoy the thrill of riding their snowmobile through a snowy Manitoba landscape, but some are essentially getting a free ride on groomed trails.
Association of Manitoba Municipalities delegates recently voted to support Snowmobilers of Manitoba (Snoman’s) push to make buying a snopass mandatory instead of optional when registering a snowmobile in the province.
Snoman executive director Yvonne Rideout said of the approximately 35,000 machines registered with Manitoba Public Insurance in 2018-19, the owners of about 19,000 opted to add the $150 snopass charge to their bill. Of the $150, $132.86 goes to Snoman.
The snopass consists of an orange plate that is fastened to a snow machine.
While Rideout said gaining the AMM’s support is a good step, it’s up to the provincial conservation ministry to implement legislation to make snopass purchase mandatory. Snoman staffand board members are waiting to meet with conservation minister Sarah Guillemard.
Rideout said money raised through snopasses is passed on to the 53 clubs. Snowmobile owners can now opt to buy a snopass but money raised through sale of the passes is needed by local clubs to pay for trail grooming and maintenance. within Manitoba to reimburse volunteers for grooming and maintaining the more than 12,000 kilometres of trails.
“Our volunteers are getting tired,” she said. “We need more money to pay for the clubs to groom the trails.”
The current rate of reimbursement to clubs is $15 per kilometre, Rideout said. Last year, more kilometres were groomed as the snow conditions were good compared to a lack of snow that reduced activity in the two previous years.
According to Snoman, the exceptions to the mandatory snopass would be landowners operating a snowmobile on their own properties, commercially licensed fishermen and licensed trappers using snowmobiles for business, isolated communities in northern Manitoba that have no trails, and those who use snowmobiles to travel from home to work on a designated trail.
Rideout said the percentage of snowmobile owners who have purchased snopasses when registering their machines has remained stable over the pastfew years, but the costs of grooming and maintaining trails are increasing. She said more than half of the trail grooming machines used by clubs are over 20 years old and will need replacing.
Snoman estimates that over $3 million in economic activity is generated through Manitoba’s snowmobile clubs and the trails are an important part of tourism. It is working with Travel Manitoba to promote the trail network, Rideout said.
“Some businesses have told us how important snowmobilers are to them,” Rideout said.