Snow­mo­bi­lers conti­nue to re­sist bud­get cuts

Vision (Canada) - - Actualites | News - ALEXIA MARSILLO

Les membres des as­so­cia­tions et clubs de mo­to­neiges lo­caux se sont mo­bi­li­sés pour dé­fendre l’im­por­tance éco­no­mique de la mo­to­neige dans la ré­gion au­près du conseil des Com­tés unis de Pres­cott-Rus­sell. Comme le mon­tant de 170 000 $ du bud­get 2018 est des­ti­né à cou­vrir les coûts d’en­tre­tien du tron­çon prin­ci­pal de 70 km, il reste en­core 400 autres ki­lo­mètres qui sont en­tre­te­nus grâce au tra­vail de bé­né­voles de di­vers clubs de mo­to­neige. Se­lon les mo­to­nei­gistes, le sport a un im­pact éco­no­mique de 12 M $ dans la ré­gion de Pres­cott-Rus­sell. De plus, la sai­son der­nière, plus de 400 mo­to­neiges ont été ven­dues à Pres­cott-Rus­sell et les deux prin­ci­paux conces­sion­naires de la ré­gion em­ploient en­semble plus de 100 per­sonnes. As win­ter fast ap­proaches, some lo­cal re­si­dents are ea­ger­ly tu­ning up their snow­mo­biles, an­xious to hit the trails as soon as they re­ceive a good coat of snow. Not eve­ryone shares their en­thu­siasm, ho­we­ver.

Af­ter mem­bers of the coun­cil of the Uni­ted Coun­ties of Pres­cott and Rus­sell (UCPR) de­ba­ted cut­ting fun­ding for the main­te­nance of coun­try trails last year, mem­bers of lo­cal snow­mo­bile clubs and as­so­cia­tions have step­ped for­ward to de­fend the eco­no­mic im­por­tance of snow­mo­bi­ling in the re­gion.

Al­though coun­cil has ap­pro­ved 172 000 $ in the 2018 bud­get for the main­te­nance of the 72-km trail that runs east to west through Pres­cott-Rus­sell, known as the Re­crea­tio­nal Trail, UCPR coun­cil mem­bers are still not convin­ced that snow­mo­bi­ling brings in en­ough re­ve­nue to sup­port this kind of bud­get.

Kno­wing that this thought pro­cess from lo­cal po­li­ti­cians keeps the fun­ding for the snow­mo­bile trails at risk for fu­ture years, lo­cal snow­mo­bile or­ga­ni­za­tions have be­gun de­fen­ding their po­si­tion – most no­ta­bly the On­ta­rio Fe­de­ra­tion of Snow­mo­bile Clubs. Snow­mo­bile en­thu­siasts are going even fur­ther by ar­guing that this bud­get does not ac­tual­ly co­ver costs for the en­tire trail, lea­ving most of the work to vo­lun­teers.

Pas­cale Roy, a Cla­rence Creek mem­ber of Dis­trict 1 of the On­ta­rio Fe­de­ra­tion of Snow­mo­bile Clubs, cites a $12 mil­lion eco­no­mic im­pact from this ac­ti­vi­ty, just in the Pres­cott-Rus­sell area, and that this amount is much, much lar­ger in all of Eas­tern On­ta­rio. Ad­di­tio­nal­ly, last sea­son, over 400 snow­mo­biles were sold in Pres­cott-Rus­sell and the two main dea­ler­ships of the re­gion to­ge­ther em­ploy over 100 people. Dis­trict 1 of the On­ta­rio Fe­de­ra­tion of Snow­mo­bile Clubs, alone has 12 000 mem­bers.

As the 172 000 $ is meant to co­ver main­te­nance costs for the main 72 ki­lo­metres of the Pres­cott-Rus­sell Re­crea­tio­nal Trail, there are ano­ther 400 ki­lo­metres off that trail that snow­mo­bi­lers use that re­main main­tai­ned due to the work of vo­lun­teers from va­rious snow­mo­bile clubs.

Not on­ly does snow­mo­bi­ling en­cou­rage ac­ti­vi­ty du­ring the idle win­ter sea­son, it pro­vides an un­de­res­ti­ma­ted positive eco­no­mi­cal im­pact in the Pres­cott-Rus­sell area, argues Roy, who re­co­gnizes that more needs to be done in or­der to shine a light on the eco­no­mic be­ne­fits of the ac­ti­vi­ty in or­der to main­tain, and even in­crease, the main­te­nance bud­get for the co­ming years.

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