For some, winter can't be long enough
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | Feb. 28, 2019|
On Valentine’s Day, my partner and I decided to go to the Oakview Lodge in Algonquin Highlands for dinner.
As we walked into the wooden lobby, we were somewhat amazed by the number of snowmobile helmets, boots and related outerwear that greeted us.
As we hung our light jackets and stored our comparatively small winter boots, we realized we were a minority at the lodge this night. Almost everyone else were snowmobilng guests or had driven their sleds to get there.
One need not go far to see the evidence of what has been a fantastic snowmobiling season in the Highlands. Just look at the library or snowmobile parking lot in Head Lake Park in Haliburton. Every weekend it’s packed with sleds as their owners roam Highland Street in their gear. The sleds are in full view outside places such as the Mill Pond Restaurant in Carnarvon. They line up for gasoline at the pumps along Highway 35 in Minden. They zip in and around Wilberforce and Dorset. Head to base camp in Haliburton Forest and you’re overrun.
On Saturday, I went to North Shore Road for a ribbon-cutting at the newly-named Peter Overington bridge. Some $58,000 of work there means the groomers can now do their work along the trail.
On a beautiful, sunny afternoon, members of the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association (HCSA) were joined by County Warden Liz Danielsen to cut the ribbon. Danielsen said everyone there supported the sport, and knew how much it meant to the county and Algonquin Highlands.
Interestingly, when you do an internet search of the economic impact of snowmobiling on Haliburton County, nothing pops up.
In addition to seasonal rates collected by the HCSA and the Forest, it would be good to know the financial impact of the sport on our county.
We do know the HCSA has 370km of groomed, signed trails on everything from an abandoned rail line to dense bush to hydro corridors and the only trail through Algonquin Park. We know the Forest has more than 300kms of trails.
We know people buy trucks, trailers, sleds, invest in permits, riding gear, gasoline, food, drink and accommodation. We just don’t know how much green they invest when they are playing in the white.
So, we were delighted to meet Cheryl Reid, who is the district governor and president for district 6 of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. The district is massive and Haliburton is a huge part of it with almost half of the trails.
Reid said they are in the process of finishing an economic impact study that will prove why snowmobiling is so important to Haliburton county. We look forward to the findings, which will no doubt prove what we already anecdotally know. Snowmobiling is one of Haliburton County’s winter economic lifelines.
Recently, the county got some recognition from the venerable New York Times. Contributor Claudie Ko wrote about ‘How to own winter like a Canadian.’
In Haliburton, she did a dog sled tour and then hit up Haliburton Forest where she snowmobiled and visited the Wolf Centre.
That’s the kind of exposure that is increasingly bringing international visitors to the county.
We’d further love to see an economic impact study of all of our winter activities and what they mean to the local economy, whether it’s skiing at Sir Sam’s, ice fishing at Ogopogo or chilling at one of our local lodges.
While for some of us winter has been way too long, for others it’s a case of ‘keep on coming’.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.