Eganville – The future of snowmobiling on trails groomed to Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club standards around the Eganville area is in jeopardy unless new volunteers step up and join the Eganville Sno-Drifters Club executive.

Currently, the executive is down to three members and the remaining individuals are getting tired. Unless there is interest from the snowmobiling community to fill positions, the 100 kms of trails under the club won’t open for the season of 2023-24, disconnecting this area from the network of trails in Renfrew County.

The Sno-Drifters currently maintain trails from Eganville to Golden Lake, Dacre, towards Griffith and north towards Pembroke.

There was a time when the 55-year-old Sno-Drifters Club was the largest snowmobiling club in Renfrew County. Membership was close to 200 and there was a waiting list to join. The club had its early beginnings in the late 1960s and first established a small clubhouse up river from Eganville, but in the early 1970s several acres of land were purchased west of Eganville, behind Foodland, and a new and spacious building was erected and a half-mile oval track built to host world-class snowmobile races.

Membership in the club has been dwindling as most of the original club members have passed on, especially in the last decade, and while the pro races continue and there is still a great interest in snowmobiling, younger people have not joined the club to fill various roles.

At its annual general meeting May 18, there was very little interest and talks about dissolving the club were initiated by the remaining three-member executive.

“We don’t want to dissolve the club because it will mean the end of trails and grooming in this area,” said current President . “All we need is a board of directors.”

To that end, a special meeting will be held at the club on Wednesday, June 21 at 7 p.m. at which time the fate of the Eganville Sno-Drifters Club will be decided.

“If we end up in the same position as we did in May, we will be dissolving the club and trails controlled by us will be permanently closed,” Vice-President Tom Schroeder said, adding a lack of interest in snowmobiling at the end of June is understandable “but this is the time of year when decisions have to be made.”

The club’s mandate is to maintain the trail system in the area. The Old Sled Show and the Bonnechere Cup Races are separate events organized by other groups.

One of the big jobs in establishing a trail system is signing agreements with various landowners to cross their properties. There are agreements in place for all of the current trails, but if the club dissolves, the agreements are automatically terminated and it would require a great effort to re-establish them.

“If people are interested in the future of snowmobiling in this area, they don’t need to feel like they are being thrown to the wolves by joining the executive,” Mr. Schroeder said. “We will support them.”

Groomer operators are in place and there is a trails coordinator, but an executive is crucial so the Sno-Drifters can continue to belong to the OFSC and be eligible for grants and grooming equipment. Currently, the club has the potential to get a new groomer, but without an organization in place that won’t happen.

“We just need an executive to oversee everything,” Mr. Plotz said.

The Sno-Drifters has agreements with about 60 landowners in the area. They will be contacted directly if there are changes planned.

“Landowners are our most valuable partners and each one of them will be kept in the loop,” Mr. Schroeder said.

The Sno-Drifters property was recently taken over by North Algona Wilberforce Township and there is an agreement between the two parties for the club to continue using the facilities for meetings, fundraising events and the annual races.

Interest in snowmobiling has been increasing in recent years and during the COVID-19 pandemic, many former and first timer snowmobilers returned to or took up the sport.

“The only way to keep the trails open in this area is to have more people involved,” Mr. Plotz stated. “It’s not really that big of a job if a few people step up. We just need some help at the executive level. We have the people in place to do the physical work.”

Back in the 1960s, Eganville and area was known as the snowmobile capital of Renfrew County. Just about every make of a snowmobile could be purchased from a local dealer, but now its future is at a crossroads that will be decided at the end of the month.

The meeting will be held at Sno-Drifters Club on Wednesday, June 21 at 7 p.m.