HILLSBURGH – While the Grand River Conservation Area (GRCA) has closed its trails to snowmobilers for the season, a Credit Valley Conservation official says the CVC is still working to grant a local club access to a portion of the Elora Cataract Trailway.
An annual licensing agreement between the District 9 branch of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) and the GRCA was not renewed after the two parties were unable to agree on the insurance and indemnification to be provided by the OFSC.
On the advice of its insurer, the OFSC approached the GRCA in September “Because there had been clauses in the previous agreement that we were not covered for,” District 9 manager Karen Buratynski told the Advertiser.
The GRCA told the OFSC and the clubs it represents that in order to consider the changes to the agreements, the GRCA would need to develop “a program to manage the increased risk and obligations.”
The GRCA press release added it “does not have the framework, resources or capacity to implement such a program for snowmobile use” so “snowmobiling is not permitted on GRCA lands at this time.”
However, CVC land and planning manager Eric Baldin says the CVC is still working to provide access to its portion of the trailway, which runs predominantly through the Town of Erin.
“Credit Valley Conservation has been working hard for several months with the Hillsburgh Snow Roamers to reach a new agreement for snowmobile use this season on the Elora Cataract Trailway,” said Baldin. “There isn’t a signed agreement yet in place for the 2019/20 season. We’re continuing to work hard to address the issue with our valued partner and find a resolution that benefits us both.”
The GRCA owns about 18km of the trails used by the Hillsburgh Snow Roamers, while the CVC owns about 7km, according to the group’s president Peter Tureski.
While the conversation is ongoing, Tureski said an agreement may not be reached this year.
“We’ve been talking back and forth but at this point, we don’t have an agreement. They’re continuing to work on it,” said Tureski. “At this point, the terms and the conditions are unchanged from previous and they’re not acceptable to the Hillsburgh Snow Roamers and the OFSC.”
Tureski added, “It’s going to take quite a while and so it may not happen this year.” He also noted, “We don’t have issues like this with other landowners, but because of the multi-user nature of the Elora Cataract Trailway, that’s one of the big issues.”