With the awards stacking up and visitors flooding in, it’s safe to say the marriage between Sicamous and snowmobiling has been a success. It wouldn’t have been possible, however, without the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club (EVSC).
Established in 1958, the EVSC has management agreements with Recreation Sites & Trails B.C. to maintain the four trails—each about 25 kilometres in length—into Owlhead, Blue Lake, Queest and Eagle Pass. Having formal management agreements with the provincial government allows the EVSC to legally charge fees for the use of these trails. This provides the funds necessary to pay trail pass collectors and staff to operate groomers, maintain snow cats and look after emergency shelters.
Initially, the trails were groomed by volunteers. To flatten out moguls, members of the EVSC would drag something behind their snowmobiles or go out in the middle of the night to build smooth trails to the alpine with a snow cat. Grooming soon became the sole focus of the club’s activities, but by the mid-’90s, the club was getting low on volunteers willing to spend nights on mountain trails, so it began looking for alternatives.
Meanwhile, the area was seeing an increase in snowmobiling visitors from across Western Canada and the U.S. Since the economic impact was being felt by the business community, it made sense to the EVSC to approach the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce about running a grooming program.
In 1999, the chamber established a grooming committee and began a grooming program using paid staff. The program ran successfully until 2002 when the chamber had to give it up because it was becoming a full-time business.
A year later, the EVSC started a separate grooming society with local business owners. The society took over the responsibility of grooming the trails as well as promoting safe and responsible snowmobiling. Developing snowmobiling as an important economic contributor to the business community of Sicamous and surrounding areas was also part of its mandate.
With the grooming taken care of, the EVSC could go back to focusing its efforts on working with government to keep riding areas open. Club members could also spend their time promoting the area’s vast snowmobiling opportunities and building emergency shelters in the alpine.
Speaking of shelters, the EVSC built its first cabin on Queest Mountain in 1976 and it was reconstructed in 1994. The cabin at Owlhead was built in 1997 by Tom Jackson of Leatherwood Log Homes. Dave Micku of Top Secret Shop built the third cabin at Blue Lake in 2000. The newest cabin is on Eagle Pass and it built in 2013 by club members.
The grooming society operated for 15 years as a seperate entity, but it turned out that the same volunteers were directors of both organizations. So in 2015, it was decided by both boards of directors to amalgamate the grooming society into the EVSC.
Today, the grooming program and maintenance of shelters continue to be top priorities for the club, which means the activities of the EVSC reflect what the club and volunteers were doing 59 years ago—on a much larger scale, of course!
For 2017, the club plans to host several large events. It will continue to provide avalanche awareness to visitors, offer AST 1 training to its members and work with the BC Ministry of Environment on the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan.
Over the years, the club has gone from approximately 60 members to more than 400. Some are from Sicamous, but many are from Alberta and other areas of Western Canada. They have discovered Sicamous as an award-winning snowmobiling destination, and the EVSC couldn’t be happier.