Blogs

  • 29 Feb 2016 by Donegal Wilson

    As many of you probably have seen on Facebook the BCSF hosted a group ride on January 31 from Kamloops to Barkerville and back to celebrate 50 years of representing organized Snowmobiling in BC.

    So while you may have read about the ride, viewed some of the amazing professional photographs taken by Geoff Moore , or are looking forward to the Episode of Snowmobiler TV that will be airing soon on CKPG Sunday 8:30am or http://www.snowmobilertv.com/index.php

    Here is little insight from my experience on this adventure…

    I was driving support vehicle with my friend and co-pilot Kathy Burke.  It seemed like for every km the group rode we drove 2.  For those that do not know me I drive a Kia Soul so heading out on the road with a F-350 with a deck and 25’ enclosed trailer was a bit of an upgrade.   I can say that there was only one sign casualty on the trip and what I learned was that if you just miss your mirror you will hit the trailer!  I also could have filmed an episode of Canada’s Worst Driver in Green Lakes trying to back the rig around on a sheet of ice.  But all in all the trip was a success in big part to Jamie from Atlas Drilling in Kamloops.  He loaned us the truck for the week and ensured that “Bessie” (yes we named her) had a tune up, fresh rubber, and was mechanically sound.  When I pulled up with the Kia to get the truck and trailer I am sure he must have had some doubt. 

    As we drove from one destination to the next on the hunt for a part, picking up snacks for the group, stopping for photo ops, stopping for diesel and assigning rooms we were amazed by the reception we received.  We needed an extended hitch installed in 100 Mile…no problem.  We pulled into Meridian RV and the President of the Mica Mountain Riders Association had me fixed up, installed, new wiring, new chains, sleds tied down and out the door with a smile in less than an hour.  Pull into the Williams Lake Big O Tire with a minor issue and find out that the manager and I have several mutual friends in Burns Lake.  Again, issue fixed and out the door in less than an hour. 

    Day five and six the group rode around the community of Wells and the support truck was parked.  So I got to finally ride a snowmobile.  On the first day Kathy and I went out on a two up sled to complete the sugar creek loop with a group.  I have never driven a two up sled and had a pretty steep learning curve which resulted in Kathy and I earning the “that guy” award (more on this later) for that evening.  It takes a special skill to dump your passenger off headfirst into a snow hole and I had to pull her out by her boots. If we could have stopped laughing then no-one would ever have known.  We honestly tried to stop laughing but hours later we would look at each other and just start laughing again so we wore our pins proudly. 

    The second day I took out a new Polaris 800 provided to me by Spectre out of Williams Lake.  I went with our guides Guy and Mike (Squirrel) from the Quesnel Snowmobile Club.  When they asked what I would like to ride for the day I said that my favorite is riding is meadows and mellow terrain.  With Avalanche Conditions high we were looking for safe options.  Our guide Guy said no problem we will ride Break Neck ridge.  I was a little nervous because that is not a name that I was thinking would associate with the type of riding I like to enjoy.  But he nailed it and we had an amazing day with fresh snow and never-ending meadows.  It was a day I will remember for some time and our guides did an excellent job at group management.

    While in Wells we also got to eat fabulous food cooked and organized by the Wells Snowmobile Club, experience a dinner theater, and listen to a great local band at the local Legion.  Our hosts at the Hubs Motel were extremely accommodating with great rooms, fresh cookies each day, supply runs, laundry (thanks Dianne), pizza delivery, and anything else we needed.  I have stayed here before and will definitely stay here again.  Dianne and Harrold are both key members of the local club and active volunteers as I witnessed Harold going out to fix the groomer at 6pm. 

    So what does 8 days hanging with the same people each night look like?  To me it looked like family.  Sitting down as a group for dinner, sharing stories from the day, and yes partying creates a bond.  There was no arguing unless of course it was about which sled brand was the best and who was going to be nominated for the “That Guy” award.   This was a very prestigious award given out by the Kamloops Snowmobile Association by nomination and vote each day to the person that did some exceptional riding skill that could include “the superman”, “the scorpion”, a tree or rock, best stuck or just plain rock star of the day.  It was coveted.

    From what I saw everyone who participated in the ride had a great time…everyday!   Every morning they headed out with a smile and every night they pulled into the lot they were still smiling.  My biggest regret was not riding the whole thing with them but maybe next year!  There is a rumour of 7 Mountains in 7 Days for 2017…what do you think?

  • 21 Nov 2015 by Donegal Wilson

    I was recently at an event where someone asked me "what is new at the BCMF?"  I asked what the M stood for?  He said the BC Meeting Federation it seems all you do is attend meetings.  At first I was a little insulted that he felt that was all we did.  Then I thought about what he had to say and guess what he is right!  A huge part of my time is spent at various meetings on a variety of topics.  So I started to look at where we meet and why?

    Destination BC: We meet with Destination BC to help our clubs promote tourism in their communities.  We have many businesses in the Province that depend on Snowmobiling to keep their business afloat in the winter months.  These are hotels, restaurants, pubs, gas stations, B&B's, lodges, dealerships, repair shops, truck dealers, and insurance retailers.  What would the town of Revelstoke look like in Winter if the snowmobiles went away?

    Recreation Sites & Trails BC: We meet with RSTBC to ensure that we are able to continue to have our trail systems recognized and hopefully someday a level of protection for future generations.  Our clubs work in partnership with RSTBC to designate our snowmobile trails as recognized  BC Recreation Sites.  This allows our clubs to maintain our trails in the summer, fix waterbars, replace bridges, place emergency shelters, parking lots, kiosks, and signage.  It also allows us to groom trails on Crown Land for the benefit of all backcountry recreationist.  The fee they authorized the club to collect on that trail provides the necessary funding to keep the trail maintained.

    WorkSafe BC: We meet with Worksafe BC to ensure that our clubs can meet any new requirements that come our of their regulations.  We have spent significant time in the last year reviewing the new Avalanche Safety Plans and assisting our clubs to understand the regulation and meet it where necessary.  We also help our clubs understand lone worker regulations and educate WorkSafe on our unique industry.

    Avalanche Canada: We sit on SledCom for AvCan to review their sled based programming and offer support and feedback in reaching our user group.  SledCom is tasked with assisting AvCan with outreach and support.  This winter we will be pushing to get people to submit reports to the Mountain Information Network (MIN).

    Caribou Progress Board: We sit on the Progress Board and are tasked with reviewing the current work being done by Government on the Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan (MCRIP).  We meet quarterly to get updates on pilot projects around the Province provide input and feedback.  We also provide an annual report to Minister Thompson on the actions Government has taken and our recommendations on the effectiveness of those actions.

    Outdoor Recreation Council: We sit on the ORC to be part of the Provincial Trail Strategy and to work with other user groups to improve our trail system throughout BC.

    Provincial Trails Advisory Board: The PTAB is a newly formed group that are tasked with the execution of the Provincial Trail Strategy.  They will guide the development of the Provincial Plan for all user trails going forward.

    Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO):  This is our National Voice.  We meet three times a year to move foward Canadian snowmobile initiatives.  Our work with this group has secured the National Trails Coalition funding that is just wrapping up and resulted in 1.2 million in Federal funding for BC trails.  $400,000 went into snowmobile trails and included trail clearing, culvert installations, new bridges and new signage across BC.  

    Board of Directors: Our Board meets monthly to review the steps taken by the BCSF and guide the organization forward.

    Meetings of the Clubs: We meet twice a year with as many snowmobile clubs as we can in the Province.  These meetings are a check in for the BCSF with our member clubs and an opportunity to share best practices across clubs.  These meetings have provided and will continue to provide the jump off point for many great initiatives.

    ORV JAG: This group reviewed and made recommendations on the new Off Road Vehicle Act and regulations that just came into effect.  We fought hard for many things at this group including stickers and youth being able to continue to ride on crown land.

    I know I missed a bunch but apparently yes we are the BCMF.  One of the BCSF key roles is to do this on behalf of all the snowmobilers, volunteers and communities that cannot participate in these meetings.  The backbone of snowmobiling in BC continues to be snowmobile clubs and their volunteers.  These people have jobs and a life and cannot spend all day or night sitting in meetings.

    Our participation ensure our voice is heard and that we are not forgotten because snowmobile in BC represents 867 million dollars annually to the BC economy.  

    So next time I hear #BCMF I will be proud that I do this on behalf of snowmobilers!

  • 21 Sep 2015 by Donegal Wilson


    As I sit here reflecting on the first day of this conference it is apparent that we have many common challenges as other motorized recreation organizations across Canada.  How do we attract new members, how do we improve the image of our sport, and how do we improve safety.  But there are some differences as well.  The BCSF is celebrating 50 years this season and other Provincial Snowmobile Associations will be celebrating this milestone soon.  So the other motorized sectors are much younger and are a different point in their organizational life.  

    On the snowmobile side we are instead more focussed on how do we sustain what we have built.  Nationally there are 1,000’s km’s of trails, huge groomer fleets, signage, and bridges/infrastructure.  How do we support our volunteers on the ground and stay relevant to our membership after 50 years.  The funding model for us is much different as we are still grass roots and work from the bottom up.  The people on the ground are still volunteers within clubs. Those volunteers got together and started working together as Provincial Federations and Associations across Canada.  These Associations then got together and created a National Body with the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations.

    On the Summer motorized side they are replicating this in reverse.  They created the National office, then they created the Provincial and then went to the ground collecting members to create clubs.  They are working to create their trail networks and are young organizations as a whole.  They have been able to do this top down model because of a one-time fee built into the purchase of your summer motorized equipment.  This money is distributed directly to the National office and then out from there. 

    It will be interesting to see how the difference in creation and funding model plays out long term.  Funded top down or grass roots up… I guess we will have to watch my blog in 40 years to see the answer.

  • 11 Sep 2015 by Donegal Wilson

     

    I would like to start by thanking all the amazing people at SilkStart Technologies that helped us get to this point.  This was all new ground for us and some of it for you.  Launching a multi-level membership platform is not new but like all things snowmobilers just do it a little different.  So adapting their technology and our processes to find middle ground has taken a lot of patience.  I can say finding and working with a BC based company was amazing and the immediate support we have received to date has made this much easier.

     

    So what does all this mean to our clubs and members?

    Well for our clubs it means that they can now offer an online method for their members to join and renew their memberships.  It allows the club to streamline their paper processing and focus more volunteer hours doing the important work of keeping their club thriving.  It offers them a front facing website for them to be able to share their activities, events, meetings, and news with the rest of us.  It also provides them with assorted reports to streamline their bookkeeping, an email suite to use for club communications and the ability to keep all of their members in one place.  Finally, it eliminates the need for paper to travel back and forth between the clubs and the BCSF office and the lag that some members have experienced.

    For the members it means that you have one more option to support your local club.  You will still be able to buy on paper directly from your club or you can embrace the new technology and go digital with us.  If you choose to go digital you will be able to login to your club’s website and update your communication preferences, your contact information, participate in members only forums, and keep up to date on what your club is doing.  Any way you join you will now receive a personalized member card, decal and welcome package directly mailed to you with a great bunch of member benefits from our partners such as Capri Insurance, Best Western Sicamous, BMO Mastercard, etc.  For a full list of member benefits please go to www.bcsf.org/benefits

    Please have some patience as we all learn something new this season and grow together.