By Chad Ingram
The Haliburton County Snowmobile Association is seeking municipal funding to assist with trails projects.
Reps from the HCSA visited Algonquin Highlands councillors during their Nov. 5 meeting.
“The Ontario market is growing . . . and growing significantly” Mark Lester told council adding the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs sold 111000 permits for the 2014/15 season the first time it had sold more than 100000 for a single season in more than a decade.
Lester called snowmobiling the No. 1 economic contributor in Haliburton County during the winter saying on any given day there are up to 8000 riders on the trails.
He stressed that many snowmobilers are also owners of other recreational vehicles such as boats and ATVs and said many return to the Haliburton Highlands in the summer season.
“Our signs say “grooming for tourism’” Lester said. “That’s what this club is about.”
The club has annual budget of about $350000 earned from the 2000 memberships its sells in a season.
The money is used for the maintenance of the county’s trails system which must be groomed regularly.
The club also applies for and receives grant money to the tune of $75000 last season and has applied for two grants worth more than $100000 this season.
It is also seeking funding from the county’s municipalities to help with its projects.
The club made no specific request with chief administrative officer Angie Bird saying requests for specific projects should be made in writing for council’s consideration.
Reeve Carol Moffatt cautioned the township has a stringent policy when it comes to grants.
“We have a policy in Algonquin Highlands that we don’t give money to things like this” Moffatt said.
The reeve added there are three snowmobile clubs that operate within the township – HCSA Dorset’s Tall Pines Snowmobile Club and the Algonquin Snowmobile Club – and that it would be unfair to grant money to one and not the others.
Councillor Marlene Kyle who is a member of the Algonquin Snowmobile Club said if any requests for funding were going to be made the three clubs should make them jointly.
“What I would like to see is kind of a consolidated collaboration” Kyle said.