For all you snowmobile enthusiasts out there, you will be happy to know that there is a new bridge at Black Brook, on the Baie Verte Peninsula, which opens up the trails for Springdale and Baie Verte and leads to the Western part of the province.
Who would think this one little bridge could be such an important artery of the trail system and that it could cause such a controversy and receive so much media attention? However, it is a true lifeline for the avid snowmobiler, joining East to West, and without it many local businesses and tourist operators in the Green Bay region would have suffered this winter.
The removal of the original bridge, which was owned by Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, Ltd. and removed last year, and the reinstallation of the new one may not have come about as hoped and as planned by the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Federation (NLSF), but regardless, everyone is pleased that the job got done in time for the winter season.
At the time of the proposal to the NLSF by Corner Brook Pulp and Paper for the purchase of the original bridge, the federation was not in a position financially to take such action due to the 3 year burden of constant infrastructure replacement and repairs to the tune of $700,000.
Fortunately, though, as a result of some of those projects, there came a surplus of bridge materials which was used to help rebuild the Black Brook Bridge again. A local contractor was commissioned to handle the installation and the Dorset and Green Bay snowmobile clubs came together and provided the materials for the decking and volunteered their time to finish the job.
According to representatives from NLSF, the contractor has not yet been paid for the work, as the organization is seeking money from the government to help with the project. NLSF says they have been making some headway with the provincial government and the lines of communication are now open, so they are confident that they will receive the monies based on a quote submitted.
The Black Brook Bridge issue is only one of many challenges that the NLSF and the local clubs face every year, and these past few years they have seen their share of trials and tribulations. The weather over the last couple of winters have been a major contributing factor, with mother nature not offering up the ideal snowmobiling conditions, thus resulting in a major decline in the number of trail passes sold, which is their sole source of revenue. This combined with infrastructure demands and lack of support in many areas such as enforcement and additional funding, has made the last couple of years extremely challenging, says the organization.
In a perfect world, the revenue generated from trail passes would be used solely for trail grooming, however the reality is that because of the constant need for bridge repair, new bridges, alder removal and other unforeseen expenses and to date no additional funding from government to help with infrastructure demands, these monies have to spread a long way. The organization is also subject to many fixed annual costs in order to operate such as insurance and administration, and these have to be paid whether we have a good snow season or a bad one.
Snow generates a lot of money for businesses and tourist operators in Newfoundland and Labrador so it is important to have the proper infrastructure in place to support local traffic and the tourist traffic. The NLSF feels that this winter will make or break the future of the trail system and the federation. Even though the snow conditions are looking optimistic, sales of trail passes are down yet again from last year, with people sitting on the fence waiting to see what the weather will bring. In the end, though, it will be the snowmobilers that will help decide the fate of the trails.
The NLSF and the local clubs say they can’t express enough the importance of purchasing trail passes. Dave Acreman, President of the Dorset Snowmobile Association and also a board member of the NLSF said, “the trail system cannot work without everyone’s support,”
Even with the fate of the trails looking bleak, Dave and the other members say they will continue to fight for the cause.
“The NLSF is still looking forward to working with the government to make this multi million dollar industry work and grow.” He was also quoted as saying “when I stop breathing, I’ll stop trying” If everyone was as passionate about the cause as Dave Acreman we would no doubt have a world class trail system and be the envy of the rest of Canada.