Because of Coronavirus, another activity thousands of Ontarians count on through March and sometimes April is coming to an early end this year.
Sadly, many people in Elliot Lake and Algoma will have to say an early goodbye to snowmobiling.
In light of the provincial state of emergency declared this week as part of Ontario's strategy aimed at responding to the COVOID-19 pandemic, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has announced its trails will no longer be groomed, (and thus not available for use) as of Saturday night.
The OFSC issued this statement:
"Due to the pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the constantly changing updates and directives from all levels of government, the OFSC is taking proactive measures to support efforts to reduce the spread of this worldwide pandemic."
"These are unprecedented times and like many other responsible businesses we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of you, your families, our communities and businesses across the province," the OFSC went on.
"Effective midnight, Saturday, March 21, all OFSC prescribed snowmobile trails in Ontario will be closed and anyone accessing such trails from that date forward will be considered to be trespassing," they concluded.
The OFSC stressed that this decision is not based on an economic determination. Although grooming operations are reduced at this time of the season, the group still spends substantial monies on its open trails. Any savings from funds not spent this permit year will be invested in the next season.
At the Elliot Lake Snowbirds Snowmobile Club in, club treasurer Kathleen Bates told ElliotLakeToday this is the earliest ever the OFSC has stopped trail grooming.
"It's being done for the safety of both the drivers and operators. We also had a late start this season because of the ice," Bates said. "Hopefully we'll be able to start fresh next season, once this is over."
Snowmobilers are encouraged to stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 information on government websites: