Matt TuckerJesse Gault, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With insurance concerns were addressed, council has voted in favour of allowing the Fergus Elora Belwood Snowmobile Club to use township land for its snowmobile trails.

Coun. Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy expressed their enthusiasm for the project.

“Before I ask you the questions, I love that the optics of this speaks to who we are as a community, working together with people who want to get out and get involved in the things that we offer,” Lustgarten-Evoy said.

However, Lustgarten-Evoy was concerned the township would face an insurance risk if there was a snowmobile accident on the trails.

“I just want to confirm, we aren’t at any additional risk from an insurance lens by switching over to this whole, we’re not more at risk now as per your comment?” she said.

Matt Tucker, Manager of Parks and Recreation Facilities Operation, tried to assure Lustgarten-Evoy that there would not be an insurance risk.

“No, to my understanding, no, through our insurance,” Tucker said,

“So we’re not at more risk,” Lustgarten-Evoy said.

Then Lustgarten-Evoy inquired about the possibility that snowmobilers might not set up their own proper insurance.

“And there is a line in here that speaks to making sure that the snowmobilers, assuming that the snowmobilers have their own insurance. How and when is that checked?

“And what happens to our insurance if we find out they weren’t and there was an accident?” Lustgarten-Evoy said.

Tucker said the OPP would check that snowmobilers have necessary insurance.

“That is patrolled as well through the OPP and that’s where it’s all about. The OPP are on the trails watching, making sure people have the proper sticker and insurance,” Tucker said.

But Lustgarten-Evoy was not satisfied that the OPP could catch every potential snowmobiler without insurance.

“Just to clarify, what if the police aren’t on at the same time as someone without insurance? What happens to us if there is an accident from an insurance lens?” Lustgarten-Evoy said.

Pat Newson, managing director of community services, explained that snowmobilers must also show they have insurance when setting up their membership to the club.

“It’s my understanding to get their membership that they would have to show proof of insurance at that time,” Newson, said.

So the two ways of ensuring snowmobilers have insurance is by checking for it when they get their membership and police checking for it on the trails.

“So the club membership requires it and also the OPP are watching for it,” Newson said.

Nonetheless, it is still possible that snowmobilers can use the trails and have accidents without proper insurance.

“As you alluded to the people who might be on there without their membership, but we can’t control everything. All we can do is our best,” Newson said.

Justified or not, Newson commented that there are also drivers on our streets without insurance.

“And obviously, if that were to happen, the person is just like driving on the roads without insurance, right. So it’s the same kind of situation,” Newson said.

Furthermore, Newson claimed that all people involved are making an effort to keep things safe in relation to the snowmobiling and the trails.

“But everybody is trying to do their best to protect the township, the users and all of the community’s safety,” Newson said.

By Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 14, 2022

This item reprinted with permission from   Guelph, Ontario
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