Put on a snowsuit and start up that sled!

Early on Friday evening, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) announced that the snowmobile trails following the Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail and through the Larose Forest were open, effective immediately.

According to a news release from the UCPR, an agreement was reached between the regional government and the Eastern Ontario Snowmobile Club (EOSC) regarding liability insurance.  The trails had been closed due to changes in the agreement because the wording of the agreement landowners sign with the club now excludes coverage for the “willful misconduct and/or negligence on the part of the landowner,” which exposed the counties to liabilities.  The agreement, and the EOSC’s insurance, are the responsibility of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC).

Although the UCPR could not ensure all of the coverage requested by its insurers, it is confident that it has enough coverage to protect its interests, and those of its taxpayers, according to a press release sent by the counties Friday evening.

This spring, the UCPR, OFSC, and City of Ottawa will form a committee to address issues surrounding insurance coverage.

At a meeting in Plantagenet on January 22, and again at the UCPR Council meeting on January 29, several snowmobilers and the owners of businesses that sell and repair snowmobiles expressed concern about the negative effects the trail closure would have on the local economy and tourism.  They were also concerned about the duration of the closures as snowmobile season enters its final weeks.

“The Counties have always agreed on the importance of the snowmobile trails to our economy, and our mayors shared the exact same concerns as the users,” said UCPR Warden Pierre Leroux.

Following the snowstorm that hit the area on Friday, Leroux said the UCPR was “relieved and thrilled” that snowmobilers could use the trails again and wished them all safe and enjoyable travels.