Snowmobilers on Baldy a ‘huge safety issue’

Baldy Mountain Resort is again speaking out against snowmobilers who use the ski hill as their own personal playground after an incident occurred while WorkSafe BC was conducting an inspection on the mountain.

WorkSafe BC was on site following the death of a 70-year-old employee on Feb. 26 and during that inspection on Feb. 28 “snowmobilers came over the top of the hill and ripped down Burn Baby Burn right in front of them,” Baldy resort stated in a Facebook post Thursday.

Motorized recreational vehicles using the mountain has been a longstanding issue at Mount Baldy.

“It’s been an issue since Baldy re-opened. In the past two years we’ve been pushing the point of non-authorized, motorized vehicles are not permitted on the foot trails or on the hill,” said Caroline Sherrer, operations manager at Baldy.

Not only does the unauthorized use of motor vehicles wreck the trails, keeping the Snowcat busy and unable to groom other trails, snowmobilers on the mountain are a safety issue, Sherrer said.

“It’s also a danger. There are people out there walking, doing snowshoeing at moonlight at night. Sometimes you can’t hear these snowmobiles when they are in the trees and they come around a corner,” Sherrer said.

Signs posted at all access points on the mountain make it clear motorized vehicles are not allowed, and barriers erected at Baldy entry points have been taken down in the past.

“We had our investigators up here and (the snowmobilers) literally didn’t go down the Baldy trail they cut across and went up another trail right in front of the investigators. There are signs posted in every access point, they’ve been torn down. Barriers have been destroyed and we have to rebuild them. It’s destructive, it’s trespassing and it’s vandalism, plain and simple,” Sherrer said. “We don’t want someone to get hurt. That’s the reason we have been so adamant about this. We just don’t want to see a tragedy on the hill again.”

Sherrer said there is an ongoing discussion in local snowmobiling groups that believe recreational vehicles have the right to access the land.

“They feel they have a right to be on the hill because it’s ‘Crown land,’ but this is a recreational area that we have boundary access to, and we are the ones who are liable and responsible for this area,” Sherrer said.

“We have spoken to the RCMP about it. They’re willing to come up, but need proof. Unfortunately, we don’t always get that proof or if we get proof it’s not clear enough prove who it is.”

There are incidents of snowmobilers using the mountain three or four times a month during the ski season, Sherrer said, noting the latest incident, which occurred in front of WorkSafe BC inspectors was “especially egregious.”

“It’s regularly. Would I say every week? No. But I would say probably at least three or four times a month. This week alone was twice,” Sherrer said. “This is a huge safety issue for us.”

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TORONTO STAR