Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett wants people to step up to the table to help the Williams Lake Powder Kings snowmobile club.
The club, which hosted its annual general meeting last night, is in danger of shutting down due to a lack of volunteer support, which will mean it would no longer maintain a groomed 15-kilometre portion of the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail from the Yank’s Peak parking lot to the club’s cabin.
“That is an asset not just for tourism, it’s an asset for local people,” Barnett said. “It’s a great trail that will in the long term provide a lot of ability for the promotion of tourism around the world, and it gives a place for people to ride safely on trails so they’re not affecting the sensitive areas we want people to not ride on.”
The Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail is close to Barnett’s heart. Back in the late 60s she and her husband were in the snowmobile business, and her husband played a lead role in getting the trail up and running.
Since then more than $600,000 has been spent on the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail with funds coming from a number of sources — including the National Trails Coalition, Western Economic Diversification Canada, Northern Development Initiative Trust and a provincial government trails development grant.
“It’s a real struggle to get volunteers, so I sympathize with the Powder Kings,” she said, adding club president, Rick Jelley — who has announced he will be stepping down this year after a decade of leading the club — has been a tremendous asset to the region.
“He has worked his heart and soul off not just for that trail — he’s worked his heart and soul off for mountain riding and has been a real advocate. I sincerely hope people will step up to the table to take on the responsibility.”
Barnett said one of the problems the local snowmobile club has always run into is a way to generate funds outside of its membership dues.
“In Revelstoke, for example, you have to go up one trail to snowmobile in the mountains because they don’t have the terrain that we have,” she said. “It’s user pay. You have to get through a booth to get up the mountain. Unfortunately, in our region, because it’s a trail system you can get on everywhere.
“If people joined these clubs then they’d have the money to go out and generate the equipment that’s necessary to maintain these trails, but they’ve never had enough people to join so they could hire someone [to do maintenance]. It would be great to have a hired position for somebody to look after the trails.”
If the Powder Kings can’t find people to help out this season, Barnett said the trail will not close.
“Someone will take it over, I’m sure, and hopefully it’s somebody from Williams Lake,” she said.
“Hopefully they’re still here [today] with new energy. It would be a real loss to the community.”