Timmins snowmobile trails opening for season
TIMMINS -- Some snowmobile trails in Timmins are ready for sledders albeit lacklustre snow conditions and pandemic restrictions.
The Timmins Snowmobile Club has been at work packing and grooming, though trails coordinator Patrick Dzijacky cautions that they are not yet in ideal condition.
"We don't have adequate snow to cover some of the rocks or some of the depressions that normally get covered," said Dzijacky.
"So just slow down a bit on your first ride, definitely take it easy."
City streets are now open for sledding as well, for the first time since the City of Timmins passed a permanent by-law for street access.
Dzijacky adds that snowmobilers must follow all of the rules of the road and the trails laid out on the club's website — and this year, that includes the COVID-19 rules and health guidelines.
The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs is advising sledders to only ride in their own public health unit districts, coinciding with public health recommendations not to travel to other communities.
Coming amidst complaints of snowmobilers from southern Ontario travelling to access northern trails, Dzijacky said the federation is directing clubs to leave connecting trails between districts closed.
"We're trying to keep the locals on the trails, locally, get them riding, get them to use their permits, get them outdoors," Dzijacky said.
The snowmobile club is also cautioning sledders not to use after-market exhaust pipes, after increased complaints to police of people using the noisy and illegal accessory.
The Timiskaming Abitibi Trail Association, which consists of eight snowmobile clubs, has been at work coordinating the region's trail preparations and is reminding snowmobilers to use them responsibly as they open up.
The association's president, Gilbert Fortin, said it's a privilege to be able to enjoy the popular winter activity during this lockdown and stay-at-home order, and so riders should act appropriately as volunteers continue working on the trails.
"Our mandate is to give an ultimate snowmobile experience and it's up to the snowmobiler to use a bit of common sense," Fortin said.
With less snow than expected for this time of year and consistent low temperatures needed for stable trails, he said the clubs are crossing their fingers for better conditions in order for more local paths to open up.
"We're doing the best that we can with what we have," Fortin said.
In the meantime, Dzijacky said most snowmobilers are well-behaved and he hopes every sledder can be a role-model for the sport and enjoy the trails respectfully in their own communities during this pandemic.
"Follow the rules, stay off of people's properties, stay off the sidewalks and use the designated streets to get to the trails," said Dzijacky.