Despite some opposition within the Powder Mountain Snowmobiling and Recreation Club, Sea 2 Sky Snowmobile Alliance proponent Tyler Kraushar said the reception at the club’s recent annual general meeting was overwhelmingly positive on Thursday (Oct. 17) with over 50 people turning out to hear his proposal.
Powder Mountain won’t vote on whether to form a single club for Sea to Sky along with clubs in Squamish and Pemberton until their next meeting in November, but Kraushar is confident the new board and membership will be in support of the concept, along with the boards at the Black Tusk Snowmobile Club in Squamish and the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club.
“There was some resistance to change, but the point is that (snowmobile clubs) need to start working together, delivering a consistent message and making improvements through the corridor for snowmobiling,” he said.
Under the proposed Sea 2 Sky Snowmobile Alliance, all membership would be merged into a single club, offering a joint membership pass to use at all of their tenure areas, plus a consistent fee and multi-pass system for day visitors. Money from memberships and passes would go back into trails.
One of the concerns put forward by opponents was that the busier clubs and snowmobile trail networks would be subsidizing other trails, while the quality of grooming in some areas could be reduced.
Kraushar said that all of the trail user data would be monitored closely, and resources would reflect user numbers. “If the most money is collected at Brandywine, then of course the most money is going to go back into those trails,” he said.
Kraushar pointed to the success of the Pemberton Valley club, which owns its own groomer, has staff collecting money at the trailhead and grooms about twice the distance of trails as Powder Mountain.
“Our goal isn’t to deteriorate the experience, but to make it better — more cabins, more safety caches and to build as many amenities for users that we can,” he said.
Another benefit of uniting as a single alliance, said Kraushar, is lobbying power, with the potential to open up new areas — such as the Hurley FSR and Sproatt — and a bigger say when it comes to local and provincial decision-making.
“We’re not even being looked at in terms of the (Official Community Plan for Whistler), and we’re being bypassed as a user group, but the reality is we’re growing rather quickly and we need to be represented at the table — especially in our own communities,” said Kraushar. “People can say they don’t want snowmobiles in the backcountry, but at the same time the majority of backcountry users around here are accessing the terrain by snowmobile. After this year we’ll have the data to back that up.”
Kraushar added that people are increasingly using snowmobiles to access the backcountry for skiing, snowboarding, kite surfing on snow and other activities.
If club memberships were joined tomorrow into a unified group, Kraushar said the Sea 2 Sky Snowmobile Alliance would have about 500 members. However, a survey and conversations with other members of the community suggest that more people would join a unified club in order to have access to all of the local trails.
“We haven’t published the results yet (of the survey), but over 50 per cent of the people who responded haven’t been members of any of the clubs, and 75 per cent said they would buy a corridor pass,” said Kraushar. “Nobody would buy a single zone (pass), although a few would buy 10 day and three day options that we’re putting out there.
“A lot of people I’ve personally spoken to aren’t members of any of the clubs, but would buy this pass.”
Kraushar’s goal is to increase membership from 750 to 1,000 in the first year of the alliance, and is promoting the pass in Vancouver as well as in the corridor.
The Black Tusk Snowmobile Club will vote on whether to join the alliance on Nov. 2, and both Pemberton and Powder Mountain clubs could be on board by the end of November to launch the alliance in time for the start of the season.
The Sea 2 Sky Snowmobile Alliance has a Facebook Page and a YouTube video explaining the concept.