A club for snowmobilers is being created in Hay River.
According to its founders, the club will have a number of goals – safe and enjoyable snowmobiling, and the related goal of maintaining trails.
“We kind of talked a few times over the last couple of years about how we need a club of work at keeping all the trails up,” said David Scheller, one of the club’s founders.
“Parts of them aren’t too bad. Parts of them are overgrown,” he noted. “There are some trails that don’t even exist anymore because they’re so overgrown.”
Right now, no one is responsible for maintaining the trails.
“Some people have gone out on their own and done some stuff, and cleaned up sections here and there, but that’s about it,” said Scheller.
Darryl Buhler, another club founder, said cleaning up the trails would make them safer, and create better conditions for promoting more snowmobiling.
The club founders say there are quite a few snowmobile trails in and around Hay River, but can’t give an exact number.
“I think they all kind of connect,” noted Buhler, explaining it’s kind of hard to differentiate them.
Scheller noted one snowmobile trail runs from the shooting range out to Enterprise and to Great Slave Lake.
“We’re just promoting safe and enjoyable riding for everybody,” said Tyler Townend, another club founder. “And there are a lot of trails, but there are some particular ones that we are going to aim for, and make them wider and make them safer.”
Buhler noted that any work on the trails will be done in consultation with the territorial Department of Lands and the Town of Hay River.
“We’re not just going to go out there freelancing and just cutting and doing what we want. That’s not the idea,” he said. “We will be doing it legally and we will be talking with NWT Lands and the town, and working with them to make sure we’re within our jurisdiction and legally doing all our things properly.”
Buhler added that not everyone who joins the new club would be expected to get out cleaning trails.
“But we’ll definitely be hoping for some volunteerism out of our members,” he said. “Not everybody is going to be required to by any means, but you’d hope that we get some help just out of pure interest.”
The first annual general meeting of the Hay River Snowmobile Club is scheduled for Dec. 14, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Hay River Curling Club.
“We encourage everybody to show up and show support for your snowmobile club,” said Townend.
At the meeting, an executive is expected to be elected for the club, which has already been registered as a non-profit society.
There seems to be interest in the club, since 62 people are already members of its Facebook page.
Along with Scheller, Buhler and Townend, the club was founded by Junior Barnes and Alex Parkes.
Townend said snowmobiling is a good experience in the Hay River area.
“There’s lots of land, the river, the trails,” he said. “You’re not going to get the mountain experience, but you still get a ton of snow here and there’s some good riding, for sure.”
The club founders note there are many snowmobilers in Hay River.
“I’d say almost everybody in town has at least a sled in their yard,” said Buhler. “If they ride them or not is a different story.”
Townend agreed there are many potential club members.
“If you don’t own a sled in Hay River when it’s snowing, it’s a pretty boring winter,” he said.
The new club will not be involved in snowmobile racing, since that is already being promoted by Hay River Racing.
The founders of the Hay River Snowmobile Club are not aware of any other such club ever existing in town, although they can’t say if one existing further back than they can remember.
“It’s a reason to promote good community,” Buhler said of the new club. “Our community is based on people volunteering and getting stuff done in that form. So I think that we’re just spearheading an idea. Rather than talking about it, we’re going to do it.”