Support the sport! Membership matters! What does that really mean for snowmobiling?

Why it’s important to support the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation and its member clubs

by Trish Drinkle

What does supporting the sport mean to you? Trish Drinkle photo

The British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF) is the provincial body that helps to support and grow the sport of snowmobiling in B.C. The BCSF currently has 60 member clubs across the province that work hard to be stewards of the environment and the sport. 

Why is involvement in the federation important?

Volunteers are very hard to come by. Ask the board of directors for any non-profit society and they’ll say the same thing. The same handful of people do 100 per cent of the work, often resulting in volunteer burnout and an implosion of the organization.

Pooling resources together results in more support and productivity. Instead of each club working independently on its own with a limited number of volunteers, resources and expertise are shared within the federation clubs. Grant writing support, safety outreach and land use issues are just some of the examples of resources shared within the federation.

As was mentioned earlier, it is difficult to gather volunteers who are able to fulfill every duty required, especially when it comes to governmental issues. Each membership sold within the federation divides money between the BCSF and the member clubs to help support the sport long term. 

An economic impact study, lobbying on behalf of snowmobilers in B.C., and a biologist to help facilitate solutions and compromise between government initiatives and snowmobilers cannot be found within a club’s volunteer base. It is imperative that hired employees take on these tasks so they are fulfilled to their highest potential possible.

This includes the staff members of the BCSF: Donegal Wilson, executive director, and Crystal Durnin, marketing and promotion/administrative assistant. They work tirelessly to support, grow and promote the sport of snowmobiling. If you have a question, they have or will find the answer. Transitioning into the new society act? Well, the BCSF has provided a step-by-step resource to follow. Have a land use issue? You bet your bottom dollar Wilson is on it and advocating on your behalf in meetings and conference calls. 

Let’s face it, we’re snowmobilers—volunteers with day jobs who are deeply invested in our sport. We need professional expertise for some situations that volunteers simply cannot do.

See the bigger picture

The voice of all snowmobilers is magnified through a provincial organization that is recognized by the government. Many committees within provincial and federal governments require representation from all stakeholders, including snowmobilers. We need to be a part of all decisions that impact the sport of snowmobiling, so representation on all these boards and committees is imperative.

We cannot risk having our voice muted or someone speaking on behalf of our sport who does not recognize our key issues. Membership numbers are monitored by the government and play a huge role in the decisions made relating to land use agreements.

Richard Cronier, president of the BCSF, and Donegal Wilson, executive director, meet with Todd Doherty, who is MP for the riding of Cariboo Prince George. photo courtesy Crystal Durnin

Being a part of the BCSF gives us support nationally through the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations. The CCSO is a volunteer-led, not-for-profit national organization which, through strong leadership, provides support to our members and provides the unified voice of organized snowmobiling at the national and international levels. The CCSO envisions that across Canada, organized snowmobile trail networks and riding areas provide a lasting legacy of responsible riding experiences that are highly valued, safe, enjoyable, sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Is your club a BCSF club or independent? There are some independent clubs in B.C. that are operating separate from the BCSF. Some are successful and some are simply getting by as a social club with members just wanting to enjoy the sport. Either way, many are unaware of the fact that these clubs are not a part of the federation and assume that they are supporting the sport when purchasing a membership, rather than supporting an independent club.

While it’s great to support snowmobile clubs, making your dollars count by supporting provincially recognized BCSF clubs not only helps the sport, but helps you as well!

Where does the money go?

Each club within the federation remits $36, plus tax, to the BCSF for every primary membership and $15, plus tax, for every child and senior membership collected. These dollars support the initiatives discussed previously and only have to be paid by the member once per season. This means a member can join a multitude of BCSF clubs at a discounted rate as they have already paid the BCSF portion personally. Insurance rates are also cheaper when you are a member of BCSF clubs and many clubs have organized purchase discounts from local stores, allowing them to save even more money.

The fun factor is huge within BCSF clubs, which organize activities throughout the season, including poker runs, hillclimb races and Family Day activities. You have the privilege of using warming cabins, maintained trail systems and cleared staging areas. You also get to enjoy safety outreach classes and many fundraising events, such as Snowarama—which donates money to the Easter Seals foundation. You are a part of something awesome when you are a member of the BCSF, for it is about the big picture.

Our voice is being heard

It is a new day for snowmobilers in B.C. We are finally getting organized and more powerful. We know we provide a huge economic stimulus to many parts of B.C. through winter tourism. We know we are working hard to be advocates for our sport and examples for the next generation of up and coming youth riders. We know that we are making strides in land use issues, no longer allowing ourselves to be a convenient scapegoat.

“We.” That is the important word and mentality that the sport of snowmobiling needs. Working alone, we are weak. Working together, we are strong. We can do this. 

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