Nation Valley Snowmobile Association and snowmobile safety

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Nation Valley Snowmobile Association (NVSA) is in Ontario District 1, Upper Canada Snowmobile region. This region has over 3,000 kms of marked, groomed trails, and 31 groomers, 1,000 club volunteers with 65,000 volunteer hours per year. (Check out https://ucsr.ca)

NVSA is a group of volunteers who are responsible for the maintenance, signing, and administrative work related to snowmobile trails in the areas of Finch, Chesterville, Winchester, South Mountain, and Morewood. The club meets once a month, currently via zoom. Members groom and maintain trails. Volunteers are the heart of the sport, and right now the Club is looking for volunteers. They thank the people who are out there helping to groom and sign, but they need more help. Covid has increased the number of snowmobilers, but decreased the numbers available for meetings. They are asking those snow enthusiasts to help with the administrative work of the club (organisation and paperwork), grooming, and signing. You can send them a message on Facebook, or email nvsa.treasurer@yahoo.com.

The Association reminds snowmobilers that they need a permit to be on the trails. Please stay on the open trails, and do not go off trail. Do not drive on private property without permission.

Snowmobilers are responsible for knowing the rules of the trails, and to be familiar with the Ontario Motorized Snow Vehicles Act (MSVA). You must know the rules and laws. In order to ride on trails, you must be at least 12 years old, have a valid driver’s license or motorized snow vehicle operator’s license, have insurance, and have registered the snowmobile with the Ministry of Transportation. Carry your drivers license and motorized snow vehicle operator’s license (MSVOL), proof of ownership, and insurance with you at all times.

In order to drive on roadways, or across roads where permitted by local jurisdiction, you must have a valid Ontario drivers license. Know your hand signals, and use them. You can ride alongside public roads between the shoulder and fence line, unless prohibited by the municipality. You cannot ride on high speed roads, such as the 400 series, or on the pavement or plowed shoulders of roads and highways where other vehicles drive. Speed limits on roads are different for snowmobiles. On roadways with 50 km/h or lower, snowmobiles may go 20 km/h maximum. On roads with higher speed limits, snowmobiles are limited to 50 km/h. Speed limit on trails is 50 km/h, but always ride to the conditions.

Make sure you know the municipality’s snowmobile by-laws. Check trail availability before entering. Ride on the right hand side of the trail. Obey signs. Stay off private property without the owners permission. Be careful crossing roads, railway tracks, and stay off rivers and lakes where possible: travelling on ice is always risky, as conditions can change quickly. If you do choose to travel on ice, check with local snowmobile clubs prior, wear personal floatation device, or floater snowmobile suit, and carry ice picks that are easily accessible.

Trails are patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Municipal Police Services, and Conservation Officers. The Upper Canada Snowmobile Region is part of the OFSC. The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) offers a Safe Riders Safety Awareness Program. The first rule they stress is that alcohol and snowmobiling do not mix. It is illegal to operate a snowmobile while impaired by alcohol or drugs. They urge you to know your abilities, and those of your machine, and don’t go beyond them. Keep your snowmobile in good shape. Dress appropriately, don’t snowmobile alone, and make sure you share your plan, tell someone where you’re going and when you’re expected back.

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