OFSC Trail Permits Sale On the Rise
by Scott A. Sumner
“ The OFSC has been around for almost 50 years in Ontario but the trail responsibilities are at the local snowmobile clubs. The OFSC is really all of those clubs getting together and saying what can we do collectively, with say insurance and dealing with government.” said Ron Purchase, Director of Strategic Development at the OFSC. “ I have have seen very large cities with modest snowmobile clubs and smaller towns with large clubs that are hugely important in the community. It amazing and based on whether the community decides snowmobiling is important. It is not just the volunteers that put the trails in place but the town itself if they know the impact at the hotels, gasoline dealers, repair places and so on. When the community gets on board it really makes a difference.”
Recent studies by the OFSC show snowmobiling can make a big economic impact.
“ We are able to say snowmobiling is worth $1.7 billion dollars in Ontario each year. That is significant and a contribution in the time of year where the communities really need it. We know snowmobilers are pretty prized as customers because they need to purchase service.” said Purchase.
How have permit sales been in Ontario?
“ We come through a period of about 10 years where each year we see a small decline in participation but we looked at how can we change that. One of the things we were able to offer is a special price point on permits purchased online before November 1st. We save on point of sale costs and folks have really responded to that. The early discount was $180 versus $210. They appreciate that and we have seen return members.” said Purchase. “ We had 15,000 snowmobilers who hadn’t bought a permit ready to snowmobile on our free weekend last year. Those people also chose to buy permits this year.”
Why should the snowmobilers buy a trail permit?
“ The first reason for buying a permit is the quality of the product. If you are a snowmobiler and have experienced a groomed trail you understand why we need every one to contribute. We are not a commercial operation but driven by volunteers. The permit is a shared contribution of maintenance of the trails. You can spend $250,000 on a groomer and then there is the operating costs. It is also law of the province that you must have a permit if your use the trails.”
“ The Ontario government has been a good partner for snowmobiling. They understand the value of snowmobiling in terms of economic impact and have given us $1.5 million for trail work happening right now to make the tourism product better. We also have a great relationship with the Ministry of Tourism and the OPP through the STOP program.” said Purchase.