It’s time to imagine what this winter has in store for us. If the amount of moisture we had this summer is any indication of the amount we might get in the following months, this could be an amazing riding season. If we get lots of snow, that will help the association in that more people will purchase memberships. It’s so important to keep our sport alive in Alberta, and you can support the ASA by buying your membership either from your local club or online on the ASA website. Part of the membership fee goes back to the clubs to help them maintain their trails, whether it be brush clearing or general maintenance. Please don’t take for granted that the trails you ride on in Alberta are maintained by paid persons—a few are, but the majority is all volunteer labour. These are people who take time out of their personal lives to make riding great for us. We can’t thank them enough.
The ASA and many other associations are experiencing the fact that our provincial government funding is on hold for now until at least after the federal election. So what should we do? Show that, as snowmobilers, we are united in the fact that we will support our sport in any way we can. You can join a club and buy your ASA membership of course, but there are other ways also. Have you ever tried to ride all the different clubs’ trails in the province in one season? Maybe when the ASA celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2021 we will challenge members to do this and give them a souvenir at every trail they ride. If you need contact information for each club, you can go to albertasnowmobile.ca.
As many of you know, there is an ASA annual provincial jamboree hosted by a different club every year. I have missed only two jamborees since 1988 and have had the privilege of riding all over the province. The host club puts in a bid, ideally a year before the event, and then starts making plans to have lots of snowmobilers come to their town. It takes a lot of work to organize the venue, the hotels, entertainment and, most importantly, the trails. The club is committed to making sure we all have a great time, so why not show your support and attend a jamboree, especially if you never have? This is also a fundraiser for the club, so all the support we show helps them and shows how great snowmobiling is in Alberta.
Our major fundraiser for the ASA is the Alberta Snowmobile and Powersports Show, which will be held October 18 to 20 at the Expo Centre in Edmonton. There is so much to see and do and buy that you won’t want to miss this event! By attending, you are also helping us showcase our sport, which we appreciate very much.
What you may get from my article is that now, more than ever, the ASA needs your support. We need to show our government that we are a serious association of dedicated snowmobilers. We would like our membership numbers to increase so that we are able to keep all our trails in Alberta for future generations to enjoy.
The other important fact I want to remind everyone of is that we are an association of trail builders in addition to riders. The ASA clubs work hard on their own dime to provide over 6,000 kilometres of groomed and managed trails in our province. The government does not build or maintain snowmobile trails—only our local club volunteers do this—which any member can ride. We sell a provincial membership for only $80 (the cheapest in Canada) and cheaper than one day at a local ski hill. Eighty bucks is all we ask to help us provide all Albertans with the opportunity to ride on safe, managed snowmobile trails. Just about everywhere else in Canada, you have to, by law, buy a provincial snowmobile pass for much much more than ours. I am tired of hearing complaints that no one can afford a membership. Eighty bucks. Your gloves and helmet each cost more than that and probably your lunch and gas to go ride. Our local volunteers need members, not just to help (which is great but not mandatory), but they need your few dollars to help put gas in the chainsaw and the groomer so you and your family have somewhere safe and fun to ride.
The membership numbers also go a long way to help us explain to government at all levels who we are.
To help celebrate these hard-working volunteers, we will honour them as we do every year at the annual Alberta Snowmobile Awards of Excellence, held every year during the snow show weekend. We are very proud and happy to highlight the work of our volunteers, but we need you, your friends, your family and their families to buy a membership. Our staff are hard at work putting together more and more member benefits to add even more value to an ASA membership. If you have yours already, thanks so very much! If you don’t, why are you not supporting the sport here in Alberta? You may joke and say you don’t ride in Alberta right now, but some day you will want to and it might not be here for you.