Snowmobilers are often presented as enjoying the natural beauty of the North. Oh please. Not at the speeds they drive. Not while their exhaust pipes spew fumes into our air. And their engines roar at a volume that must be endured by everyone within five miles. And their tossed beer cans litter the forest until someone comes by and picks up after them.
What snowmobiling is all about adolescent males going VROOM VROOM.
Which means that our government has handed over thousands of miles of crown land to a bunch of young men to use as their personal racetrack. How fair is that? And did they ask us first?
When a friend of mine contacted the MNR to ask about putting up signs at each end of a short trail through crown land that snowmobilers are using as a short cut to get to their trail and, in the process, making it dangerous (not to mention extremely unpleasant because of the fumes and the noise) for the rest of us to use (for walking and cross-country skiing), she was told No, they can’t put up signs prohibiting snowmobilers from using it because everyone has access to crown land. Right. Then why do the signs on the snowmobile club trails say ‘No Trespassing – You must have a permit to use this trail’?
Why has the government done this? Because they’re adolescent males themselves. Who still want to go VROOM VROOM.
And because local businesses asked them to, because they want to make money from the snowmobilers.
Snowmobilers are a minority. Local business owners are a minority. Why do they get to determine policy and practice? Policy and practice that affects other people?
When snowmobilers (and ATVers and dirtbikers – essentially, all motorized ‘recreational’ vehicles) use crown land the way they want, no one else can use it the way they want. Consider the trails, mentioned above, unsafe and unpleasant now for hikers and skiers. Consider the lake we all live on. In winter (and in summer too – jetskis, another motorized recreational vehicle), our properties may as well be backing on, well, a racetrack. (So much for sitting outside and – well, so much for sitting outside. Not to mention canoeing or kayaking.) Consider all the backroads we live on, the ones without sidewalks. It’s nice that we can hear a snowmobile coming from miles away so we have time to get off the road, but it’s not enough to get off to the side (assuming that’s not where we already are), because that’s where the snowmobiles drive. It’s not even enough to get off the road and up onto the snowbank, because they like to ride the banks. You have to climb up and over the snowbanks to be safe. In some countries, pedestrians have the right of way. In Canada, gas-guzzling, fume-spewing, noise-farting, male-driven snowmobiles do.