Snowmobiles a nuisance on city property
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 04, 2014 06:00 am
Snowmobilers illegally using city trails and parks continue to be a nuisance in St. Albert.
In a New Year’s Day e-mail to the Gazette, city resident Elke Blodgett said she noticed snowmobile tracks all over the new Rotary Club playground in Riel Recreation Park and along the Red Willow Trail system. The tracks were leading to the underpass at Ray Gibbon Drive, heading south to Big Lake, she said.
She added that more tracks had appeared earlier this week on Big Lake and around the Big Lake Environment Support Society (BLESS) platform.
Blodgett’s e-mail comes only a month after complaints by members of the St. Albert Nordic Ski Club (STANSKI) about someone cutting the wire fence around the Riverlot 56 natural area, and driving one or more snowmobiles on the trails inside.
“In this case the snowmobile tracks are on fairly freshly seeded areas so I am concerned that even with the heavy snow packed on top they might destroy what is underneath,” Blodgett later told the Gazette, referring to the playground land.
Using a snowmobile within St. Albert city limits can cost $250 if you’re caught by St. Albert municipal enforcement services. Senior officer Garnet Melnyk said any off-highway vehicle is illegal to use on city lands for public safety reasons.
“You have people that are walking and obviously a snowmobile can drive at highway speed and come whipping around a corner,” he said. “And then you could blow into somebody that is walking their dog along the trail system or the river valley area.”
Despite the fine, officers continue to receive a number of complaints about snowmobilers illegally using the city trails or river system every year, he said. Melnyk added that it’s almost impossible to find them after the damage was done.
The city’s RCMP is also short on two staff members, he added, which makes it harder to follow up with complaints. They do follow the tracks though should they notice fresh ones in the snow, he said.
“We try to but obviously we don’t have four-wheel drives and trucks that we can go on the river with,” he said. “But we try to determine where they are and where they are coming from.”
Should someone see a snowmobiler on city lands, Melnyk advises to call the local RCMP detachment and make a complaint, and to write down the license plate number, if possible.
The city has placed “no-skidoos” signs around the city limits but that doesn’t necessarily keep snowmobilers out, he added. Putting up fences is not an option either, he said, as they could be dangerous to sledders.