I hope everyone has got out for some spectacular BC riding this winter. #letsridebc Down here in the South Similkameen we have been mostly ripped off. Every storm cycle skips us and what snow there is, is so unstable that it really limits where you can access. While the rest of the Province is measuring in metres and the news is covered with reports of an atmospheric river…Here it was plus 8 and looks like it is time to think about my motorcycle.
Lobbying for Federal Funding
Last fall we went to Ottawa seeking support for funding in the next Federal Budget for snowmobiling. We worked with our counterparts across Canada to deliver the message that snowmobiling is an 8 billion dollar industry across Canada and that our product is delivering excellent winter trails. We also wanted to be sure that our decision makers understand that these dollars are generated in the largely rural areas, during the winter months when tourism dollars are desperately needed.
We are asking for two items in the budget. National Trails Coalition (NTC) funding for trail infrastructure Program and a Canadian Groomer Refurbishment and Replacement Program. Both of these programs if successful would create significant investment across Canada. For BC they are critical. With a grooming fleet with an average age of 24 years old we need investment to upgrade this equipment. It would allow us to lower our overall grooming costs with newer technology and less breakdowns as well as improve your experience on the trails with less downtime and more clubs being able to get equipment.
For the NTC program this is the third ask for these funds. We have received funding twice before and it resulted in many great projects in BC. Including a new parking lot at Coquihalla; new culverts and trail resurfacing at Brohm Ridge; New bridges in Wells/Barkerville, Horsefly, and McBride; Improved access with brushing and trail clearing done in Creston, Goldbridge, Kamloops, Merritt, Revelstoke, Golden, Sicamous, Kelowna, and Houston; and new signage in Clearwater and Fort St John. In the last round, with partial funding from the Federal Government that was matched by the Snowmobile Clubs through membership dollars, regional funding pools, and Provincial funding clubs, they were able to make an 800 thousand dollar investment in your trails. We need a sustainable stream of multiyear funding to strengthen this program and ensure that clubs can plan for future infrastructure needs.
The BCSF continues to participate in all working groups including the Provincial Caribou Recovery Progress Board. We have just completed a review of the new proposed Section 11 partnership between the Province and the Federal Government and submitted our recommendations. Largely we are focussed on ensuring that decisions are science based and that all levers of the plan are executed. Not just the easy ones of area closures. They are primarily focussed on the herds near Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge but have indicated that the findings made here will have provincial implications. I am actively participating on all calls and intend to participate in any consultation opportunities that may arise.
ORV Trail Fund
As part of the new ORV Registration we were promised that a portion of the registration dollars would be put into a motorized trail fund once ICBC covered their costs for implementation. ICBC achieved payback in August of last year and the BCSF lobbied to ensure that this promise was kept. With pressure, we have received confirmation that a transfer of approximately $400,000 has been made. We are now working with our partners at ATV BC, BC Off Road Motorcycles and Recreations Sites and Trails to develop the fund framework and hope to see some of this money on the ground this year.
BCSF Club Annual General Meeting
We are preparing for the BCSF Club Annual General Meeting to be hosted in Revelstoke March 24, 2018. We anticipate a large turnout for the meeting which is followed by our awards night where we honor the best of BC in the snowmobile world. If you have not nominated someone yet for an award please take a few minutes to recognize that volunteer, dealer, tourism business, or company that has gone above and beyond. The Revelstoke Snowmobile Club is also celebrating their 50th Anniversary this weekend and has many great events planned for the weekend so be sure to check out their Facebook.
Provincial Membership Plan (PMP)
The BCSF has been working with the PMP committee on the next draft of the PMP for club consideration. The PMP committee is comprised of different club volunteers from across BC. The next draft is going to be circulated to all club executives on February 1st with a direction forward for the plan chosen by the clubs at the AGM meeting in Revelstoke. If you are interested in the PMP be sure to talk to your club executive in February to find out their thoughts on the plan.