I understand the ban on the Trans Canada Trail, as there are signs that say you’re not allowed snowmobiles on it. The only option snowmobilers have to get to the real snowmobile trails which starts off of West Ridge is to take the TCT.
Although it is not allowed, I believe it is much safer on the trail than driving on the side of Abbott, one of Stittsville’s busiest streets. Snowmobilers technically aren’t allowed on public roads, but it is generally accepted if they are on route to a trail.
Lots of people use the portion of the banned trail to walk their dogs, or get to school, so I understand the worry many citizens have about having snowmobiles occupying the same trail as them. However, this portion of the TCT is not plowed or maintained, and snowmobile tracks make it easy to walk on for those who use it.
Snowmobilers have a hard time with a lot of things. Snowmobile trails around Stittsville towards Ashton, Carp, Almonte and Arnprior, use private property with permission from the land owner, and a few immature riders can ruin it for the rest of us. In the past few years, many trails have been re-routed or closed due to property owners being unpleased with snowmobilers. Immature actions include using loud exhausts, littering, and driving off of the groomed portion of the trail.
Like anything, it comes down to respect. When I pass a dog walker or cross country skier, usually on the real trail away from West Ridge, I slow down and move to the side, safely passing the person. Riders who drive on soccer fields and drive fast or loud machines on the banned portion of the trail ruin the image of the majority of responsible riders.
Another comment I have concerns where the real trail starts, which is between West Ridge and Jenkinson road, along the TCT. This is a real snowmobile trail, and riders pay expensive yearly trail passes to maintain trails, including this portion, which includes grooming the trail, and running a “limb cutter” which cuts tree branches that grow into the trail. On this portion, which is a real trail, I have still have skiers and dog walkers get mad at me for riding along it, yet I am sure they don’t know that myself and other snowmobilers are the ones actually spending money which makes that portion of the trail so enjoyable for those activities.
A good example of a dog walker would see a snowmobile coming, grab the dog and stand off to the side of the trail, which is responsible and safe. People using this portion of the trail should wear reflective clothing, because it is sometimes hard to see them. This is my example of playing devils advocate.
Overall, myself and many other Stittsville residents love snowmobiling during the winter months. We bring a lot of revenue to places that would otherwise not receive it, especially in northern parts of Ontario. A great local example of this is the Aston Pub, you would be hard pressed to pass the restaurant during the winter and not see several snowmobiles parked outside.
When my father and I go snowmobiling up north, around the areas of Deep River, Chalk River and Mattawa, we make sure to buy our gas there to support the local economy. I am enjoying your coverage of my favourite winter pastime, and encourage you to broaden your articles on snowmobiling to include other aspects of the sport.
My suggestions would be the snowmobile license procedure – individuals as old as 12 can take a course which allows them to operate a snowmobile, which is what I did before I had a G license. Maybe this could encourage some interested people into trying or getting involved with snowmobiling.
Kyle Wilson, Stittsville