Bob Ramsay, president of the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV), is happy to announce that the non-profit organization will provide $150,000 to develop sustainable trails across Canada. The amount of $150 times a thousand is in honour of Canada’s year-long sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary celebrations.
The program is open to provincial ATV and off-road motorcycle federations across Canada. Successful project submissions will receive up to 70 per cent of the necessary funds.
There is a personal investment in the trails among the folks at COHV. Ramsay grew up riding, and has continued to ride into his adult life. “I grew up on a farm, so I would ride around the farm. I also had the opportunity to go out to ride on trails in our area," he said. "I have managed to ride the trails in most provinces across the country.” The 150th funding program is dedicated to celebrating the trails, as well as maintaining both the trails and the environment.
“As the representative of the manufacturers and distributors of OHVs in Canada, we felt this was a good way of celebrating the 150th anniversary,” said Ramsay. “By showing that we support trail riding. We support the riders.”
The key to this program is the sustainability aspect necessary for project proposals. “We also want to support the environment that the trails are built on,” said Ramsay. “We can provide some money to improve and upgrade the environmental aspects of the trails, and that benefits everybody.”
The COHV works with the 15 provincial off-highway vehicle (OHV) federations across the country. In turn, these provincial federations work with the local clubs for both ATV and off-road motorcycles.
Community clubs interested in receiving funding for their sustainable trail developments are encouraged to submit a proposal through their provincial federation. “We’ve been working with the provincial federations for over 10 years now on an annual basis, and have provided grant funding to them in the past,” said Ramsay.
This new program is specific to this year, so it has a special set of requirements. “The project must be shovel ready, must be completed within this year, and must meet all of the requirements of sustainable trails,” Ramsay said. Eligible projects include new trail construction or existing trail improvements; bridge installations or upgrades; signage installation; and trail rehabilitation. Eligible projects, to remain sustainable, will cause minimal disruption to the land or water.
The reaction from OHV communities has been positive. “We’ve already received a lot of inquires from the provincial federations,” said Ramsay. “I know they’ve submitted a number of projects for funding. In fact, some of the projects have already been approved.”
The goal of this special 150th celebration is to get riders travelling the trails across Canada. “It’s not only good exercise, but it also contributes to a lot of communities across the country,” Ramsay said.
“Especially for the smaller communities, these can be a driver of economic contributions because people require gas, food and water,” he said. More visitors bring more business to the communities. Better trails allow riders to see more of their country. “We want people to be proud of Canada, ride the trails, and see that these trails are well designed and maintained.”
Trail riders also have their manufacturers and distributors to thank for the celebratory funds of the 150th sustainable trail development program. “The funding comes through our association, but it comes from the manufacturers and distributors of OHVs in Canada,” said Ramsay. “It’s a lot of money for them to put up.” While the manufacturers have been involved in this type of program since 1984, this one is unique to Canada's sesquicentennial. “It’s a very nice way of celebrating,” Ramsay said.