A COVID conversation with Yvonne Rideout, executive director of Snoman in Manitoba

“We will have to see what the fall and winter holds. If we continue to see climbing cases of COVID-19 or a second wave, it may dictate riders’ priorities.” — Yvonne Rideout

by Kyle Born

Yvonne Rideout wears black clothes while sitting on a yellow snowmobile inside of a beige building.
“We would like riders to get out there and enjoy the trails.” — Yvonne Rideout Photo courtesy Yvonne Rideout

Many snowmobilers are asking themselves a similar question these days: “Will I be able to ride this season during the COVID-19 pandemic?” Well, that depends on the situation. To clear things up, we asked Yvonne Rideout, executive director of Snoman Inc. in Manitoba, some COVID-related questions to help bring clarification for riders eager to get out on their sleds.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Snoman Inc.?

As a result of COVID-19, Snoman closed its trails on Thursday, March 26. Our office closed on April 1 as we were considered a non-essential business and the staff worked from home. Our office reopened on June 1, 2020, but remains closed to the public. If clubs need to pick up anything from the office, they come to the parking lot where we do contactless delivery.

How is your organization adjusting to social distancing?

As it relates to the office, we have enough space to social distance as there are only three of us in a 2,400-square-foot space.

How has membership been affected?

Snopass sales saw a slight decline. We will have to see what the fall and winter holds. If we continue to see climbing cases of COVID-19 or a second wave, it may dictate riders’ priorities.

Are you still having meetings? How are they being conducted?

Yes, we are still having meetings but we have used GoToMeetings. This technology has been used for four meetings so far and we will continue to use it. Our annual meeting is going to be face-to-face with just the board and others being able to join via GoToMeeting. We have a meeting room large enough to social distance.

Are you able to work on trails?

Yes, our clubs are able to work on the trails and we provided them with a volunteer practices document.

What plans do you have for the rest of summer and the upcoming fall?

We will continue to monitor what is happening with the virus. For the fall, we need to start thinking about the use of shelters for the upcoming season.

Are there any events or snowmobile shows that are still happening and have not been cancelled?

We cancelled our annual congress which was to take place in November because there was no way to social distance. The Sneak Peak was cancelled this past March. Clubs are meeting outside or via conference call.

How do you anticipate COVID-19 affecting the upcoming snowmobile season?

This is a wait-and-see, depending on the number of active cases and if there is a second wave. Fortunately, it is easy to social distance when you are riding a sled.

What advice do you have for avid snowmobilers who are anxious to know if they’ll be able to get out on the trails and go for a ride this fall?

We would like riders to get out there and enjoy the trails. Practice social distancing and keep gatherings small and to a minimum. Snoman will be providing more information to clubs in the fall as a part of our due diligence as it relates to club activities and gatherings at shelters or elsewhere. 

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