Policing snowmobile trail use can only go so far

Stephen Brun
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SUMMERSIDE - It's a case of a few bad apples, according to the president of the P.E.I. Snowmobile Association.
For the past two years, Summerside resident Twila Arsenault has been trying to deter snowmobile drivers from leaving the Confederation Trail and using her yard as an access point to residential streets.
But PEISA president Dale Hickox says once drivers leave the trail system, the matter is in the hands of authorities.
"We can not control everything people do on the trails." he said. "It's a serious matter but, unfortunately, there are people in all walks of life who will do this type of thing. Our wardens are on all the trails we groom, but we can't go into downtown Summerside and enforce the trail rules there."
The Province previously passed a law saying landowners are exempt from liability if any off-road vehicle is involved in an accident while trespassing on private property. Arsenault said she was concerned about the snowmobilers passing within inches of her Perry Street home because her children and pets are often outside. Her home is just steps from the Confederation Trail.
Some of Arsenault's neighbours erected fences around their properties, but she hoped a less costly row of hedges would do the trick. So far it hasn't worked.
Hickox said there are more than 20 wardens who patrol that trail and the branches maintained by the association. But the wardens only have authority under the Off-Highway safety Act to check for a driver's permit and registration.
If a machine ventures onto private property or city streets, it's the responsibility of RCMP or community police services.
While he sympathizes with Arsenault's situation, Hickox said most drivers respect the rules of the trails.
"The wardens have stopped hundreds of people this year and they've only given out one ticket," he said. "One of our main slogans is to use your own judgment and practise common sense."

Organizations: P.E.I. Snowmobile Association, RCMP

Geographic location: SUMMERSIDE, Perry Street

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Recent comments

  • Don Deleemans
    February 15, 2014 - 14:08

    we have snowmobiles crossing our farm property approx. 100 acres at all times I had a no trespassing sign which is gone but they would cross over under the sign anyway. who do I contact to stop this . Thanks Don Carodoc Twsp. Mt. Brydges ( Middelsex county) Ontario Can

  • Sarah
    June 21, 2010 - 19:07

    Maybe a large part of the problem lies within the last paragraph of the article. How is it that the wardens have found cause to stop hundreds of people yet only gave out one ticket? Either they are harrassing hundreds of people needlessly or they are not doing their jobs.

  • ktown
    June 21, 2010 - 19:06

    i dont see what the problem is if they are driving slow and there is snow on the ground it sure isnt goin to hurt the grass any.i have the same problem but i dont mind it they go slow and there is probly about 20 to 30 that go threw mine .as long as they are havin fun and being safe why care they arent hurtin anything.

  • K
    June 21, 2010 - 19:06

    Sarah, They are likely stopping people to check for trail passes. Without paying a fee to the snowmobile association to use the trail, you are not allowed on it with a machine.

  • Confused
    June 21, 2010 - 19:06

    How unfair is it that noone can comment on the front line news article?? truth hurts to much I guess and noone wants to read the truth and comment on how they feel about a child abuser only getting 2 years LESS a day....

  • Nugg
    June 21, 2010 - 19:06

    I have a great idea, post a no trespassing sign outside the home, on that sign clearly indicate that you are not responsible for any damages incurred from crossing your property with any vehicle, motorized or not. Then scatter some random stuff throughout the yard, such as old tires, tree stumps, wheel barrells, car parts, etc. and wait for the fun to begin. The traffic through your yard in the winter will surely stop once one of them severely damages their snowmobile or themselves, and as per your sign you are not responsible for it. That should make them think twice about it the next time they go by.

  • My Opinion
    June 21, 2010 - 19:06

    Well if the Authorities had more right to punish offenders strictly it may change things, but of course like it is with life the same Authorities would abuse it charging innocent people & allowing ones they know to get off - so thus we are left with the situation of the Snowmobiles
    When someone is charged, is guilty no matter the offense they are getting off with minimum charges, serve their time and get out and seem to live better lives than before while the ones they harmed struggle to continue.....
    Makes no sense - but I don't believe the fault is on the RCMP/Police -

  • George
    June 21, 2010 - 19:05

    Twila heres my advise, next fall have someone dig a few nice deep holes and cover them over with a tarp before the next snowfall. After you catch a few tresspassing snocarts haul them out, fix them up and sell them, as for the morons who drove them, simple, just fill in the hole. its wabbit season, no, duck season, no...wabbit seaon...to heck with the ducks and wabbits ITS SNOWMOBILE SEASON !!!!!!!

  • BIG Red
    June 21, 2010 - 19:05

    Ms. Arsenault -- Just a thought,but what if you followed the tracks and then drove all over the yard of the guilty party? That may make a difference but I would leave a note stating who you were and why you were getting even just to emphasize your point. Just a thought........ Please remember that it is only a select few and that most people who enjoy the outdoor activity are law abiding users of the trail system.

  • Pete
    June 21, 2010 - 19:04

    I know it's sad to say this Ms Arsenault but...big fence...BIG fence...

  • Arctic Cat
    June 21, 2010 - 19:02

    Wow people take things too far, putting stuff in the yard so the snowmobilers can hit it, lets cause some more trouble. The snowmobiler who went throught the yard should have taken into consideration the hedge and went around it instead of right through it, thats a little rude, and respect the property but not only that by the looks of the picture only one snowmobiler went through the yard.

  • Officer Stadenko
    June 21, 2010 - 19:02

    hire Chuck Norris.....