Who authorizes BC snowmobile clubs to collect trail fees?
The Provincial Government. Trail fees are charged under authorization Part 5 of the Forest Recreation Regulation under the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). According to the regulation, fees are collected on a cost recovery basis by Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) partnership agreement holders. Fees are not collected by government and are solely managed by partner snowmobile clubs in order to provide services (chiefly grooming, parking, signage, summer maintenance and warming shelter upkeep). The fees are not for accessing crown lands but are used by snowmobile clubs to recover costs associated with operating the trail network.
What is the money used for?
Snowmobile Clubs must invest every dollar they collect back into the trail network. They do this primarily through the grooming of trails. But grooming the snow is not the only expenses a club has that the trail fee contributes to. They have to purchase and maintain the grooming equipment, wages for operators and gate staff, insurance, maintenance and expansion of trail networks, mitigating water, maintaining bridges and culverts, clearing parking lots, signage, firewood, and repairs to shelters.
Are trail fees the same price everywhere?
No. Trail fees are collected on a cost recovery basis. All trail fees collected and expenses related to the operation of a trail network are reported by the partner snowmobile club each season to RSTBC. Based on those reports the trail fee rates may be adjusted up or down by RSTBC to maintain the balance of cost recovery within the trail network.
Does every club charge trail fees?
No. Partnership agreements are a lot of work and can require years to put in place. Clubs need to have the needed equipment, volunteers, and ridership to maintain a trail network before they work towards a partnership agreement. Therefore, some clubs choose to cover the costs of maintaining their trails by a voluntary donation or through a club membership. Some of these clubs are able to offer limited grooming depending on the level of support by their ridership.
How many clubs do charge trail fees?
There are 54 partnership agreements between RSTBC and snowmobile clubs in BC. Of those 54 agreements, fee collection is authorized on 31 trail networks. RSTBC is proud of our partnerships with the snowmobile community of BC and believes fees and fee payment are critical to maintaining world class opportunities for snowmobiling in communities across the province.
Do I have to pay the fee?
Yes. Non-payment of the fees is a contravention under FRPA and is enforceable by Natural Resource Officers, Conservation Officers and RCMP. Infractions should be reported here https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/natural-resource-law-enforcement/report-natural-resource-violations and this information should also be passed on by the club to their District Recreation Officer.
More importantly, non-payment of the fees is robbing a volunteer snowmobile club of operating funds to provide services like trail grooming, parking lot clearing and other important functions.