Timmins is getting closer to being an even more snowmobile-friendly city.
As part of a pilot program, last winter the Timmins Snowmobile Club launched a multi-year trial project to open up a number of streets to snowmobilers to access trails, gas stations, restaurants and accommodations.
The club's Patrick Dzijacky was back at council this week to talk about last year's program, and look ahead to phase two this winter.
Council has not passed a resolution on phase two yet, that vote is expected at the first meeting in January. If it moves ahead successfully, the final phase of the initiative is to create a city bylaw for snowmobile access to roads ahead of the 2020-21 season.
The first phase allowed snowmobiles on some streets in Schumacher, Gold Centre, Porcupine, South Porcupine, Mountjoy and Connaught for the 2018/19 season. It also allowed access to the Hampton Inn by Hilton.
Phase two would open up streets in Timmins north and south.
Snowmobiles will not be allowed downtown, on major roads, or streets around schools.
During the 2018-19 snowmobile season, Dzijacky said Timmins Police received 28 snowmobile-related complaints.
“Now this doesn’t necessarily mean all the complaints were because of the phase one roll-out, this includes on the trails, excessive noise on let’s say Porcupine Lake. So this is all the complaints they received,” he said.
At the club level, he said they received some complaints as well, mostly about speed and noise.
Having easier access to the trails is having an impact on the sport locally.
Usually, he said there are about 1,200 members for the Timmins Snowmobile Club.
“Currently this year we’re already up to 1,146 permits sold and over 90 classic permits, so that’s 100 permits better than last year at this point,” he said.
One of the reasons for that is the snow. He said there's also a lot of excitement about being able to access the trails without having a trailer.
In the last couple years, he said promoting Timmins as a snowmobile-friendly city has come a long way.
"A lot of people are dusting their snowmobiles, buying their classic permits and getting back on the trails because now they can access them a lot easier,” he said.
Should the program move ahead, there are conditions for sleds using the road. They are:
- The driver must be at least 16 years old
- All operators have a valid license and insurance
- The speed limit for snowmobiles is 20 km an hour
- Access is only allowed from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The club is also asking snowmobilers to not speed on streets, not use Mattagami Region Conservation Authority walking trails, and not have exhaust modifications on their sled.
There was some talk about signs letting sleds know what streets they are able to access.
With the number of signs around town, Dzijacky said he doesn't know if it would be effective.
“I strongly believe that the onus should be on the rider to know where they can and can’t go,” he said, adding it could be a decision for when a bylaw comes forward.