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Money for groomed trails

Dear editor, Last month, I drafted a letter about trail stickers to The Northern Pen and discussed being forced to pay for a sticker to travel 18 roads to access trouting, wood cutting and trapping areas. I reiterated that I would not pay to travel on a road constructed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by Bowater’s and subsequently by the Department of Natural Resources. I stated that a fee was beyond the power (Ultra Vires) of the act and that a trail sticker fee for 18 road was beyond the power of the Snowmobile Association to charge.

I have subsequently done a little bit of searching and found that while Gerry Byrne was Minister for ACOA, snowmobile associations in the province were awarded monies for groomers and trail construction.

On Feb. 15, 2003, Mr. Byrne announced that $2.9 million dollars in funding would be earmarked for the provinces snowmobile trail network. A year prior to that, 2002, another $410,433 was announced for the groom trail network in Newfoundland. That makes a total of $3,310,433 for groomed trails in Newfoundland and that is just in two years (ACOA website, Feb. 25, 2003).

More money was earmarked for those trails in subsequent years and when I am able to get the actual documentation, I will publish it.

Mr. Kevin Sweetland said that 49,000 snowmobiles were registered in the province in 2001.His words were to move ahead and to finish trails in Newfoundland that would promote winter tourism (ACOA website, Feb. 25, 2003).

We should know that all new snowmobiles bought since the early 1980s have had to be registered with provincial government. Was this the number he was using?

Add to this, Valcourt, Quebec, July 28, 2008, through BRP and its Ski-Doo Million Dollar Support Club will donate up to $1 million dollars to Canadian Snowmobile Clubs for snowmobile trails. For every Ski-Doo bought, $10 will be donated to the local club, and it states that you do not need to have a Ski-Doo brand to participate in this program. All brands are accepted. This year, The Department of Natural Resources is advising users of trails that provincial conservation officers are enforcing regulations (The Telegram, Feb. 2, 2011).

It has also been forwarded to me that other snow machine manufacturers are now providing charitable donations to the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Association and earmarking monies to support and maintain a network of groomed trails in the province. This is again supported by both the provincial and federal governments. On a website article, NLSF indicates that both levels of government have spent in excess of $20 million to construct and maintain groomed trails, and I guess they must establish a big brother attitude. Thank you for shoving this down our throats.

Our provincial government in 2008 threatened to take the people against mandatory trail permits to court. Actually, the then Williams’s government effectively drove us out of court because using a clause in the law, forcing people against this act to pay up front in order to take the provincial government to court.

We attempted to take the province to court, but we had to pay in excess of $15,000 up front and if found guilty by a judge, this would be monies we would forfeit to the crown. And at that time we, the NLWF (Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation), together with people from Deer Lake and Stephenville, did not want to take that chance with raised money from volunteers.

We felt that was too much of the people’s money to raise and risk. The Snowmobile Federation won that battle, again supported by both the federal and provincial governments.

It is now again up to the citizens of this province to do away with this illegal tax. If we allow a snowball to gather momentum, it becomes a monster of a storm.



Ward Samson


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