Ridge Riders Rise from the Ashes

Trent Ernst, Editor

At last year’s Ridge Riders Snowmobile Club AGM, there were exactly two people: Chris Dell, the president of the club, and myself, then acting as the Tourism Coordinator for the District of Tumbler Ridge. 
It was the last straw for Dell, who had spent three years trying to rebuild the club back to something resembling its former glory, but instead spent most of his time with his extended family and a few others doing all the work. 
But, like a pine cone that needs the heat of the flames before sprouting, the death of the Ridge Riders club was also what may have saved it. When Dell et al were running the club, most riders were happy that the club was there and that someone was doing the work, even if it was only one or two people. But when the new snowmobile season began and there was no club in town, people started to get worried and ask questions. 
Donegal Wilson, Office Manager for the BC Snowmobile Federation (BCSF), posted on the Snow and Mud Northern BC Discussion Board that there was no club in Tumbler Ridge. 
Amongst the people who heard the cry was Adam Court. Court is a Mining Technician out at Quintette, and an avid snowmobiler, but someone who has never been involved in a club before. This has not stopped him from quickly becoming one of the driving forces behind resurrecting the Ridge Riders. “With better management and advertising I feel this club could be big,” says Court. And so Court, along with a number of other snowmobilers, arranged for a meeting of interested sledders.
And so it was that on January 15, well over thirty snowmobilers and interested parties packed into room one at the Community Centre for a broad ranging discussion about restarting the club and some of the problems that needed to be addressed. 
One of the biggest issues was getting the club back in good standing with the BC Snowmobile Federation and with the provincial government. Richard Cronier, Northeast Director for the BCSF was at the meeting. He says that, if the previous club filed their papers with the government two years ago, the new club should just be able to pick up from where they left off. “If you don’t file for three years, you have to do a new society. If you did it two years ago, you should be good. However, you can’t go any farther without an executive.”
To those ends, the proto-club elected an interim board, with Court as president, Menno Buhler as vice-president, Sandra Cutler as treasurer and secretary, Randy Cutler as head of the grooming committee. Court says “We’re going to do it properly, following what other clubs have done. Some guys might not like it because they’re used to doing things their own way, but we need to do this right.”
Other priorities for the formative club include selling memberships. The club currently doesn’t have a membership book and BCSF has run out, but is expecting more in the next few weeks. Memberships should go on sale by the first week of February, says Court, though at a discounted rate.
Another priority is to get the groomer out and actually grooming. The club is looking into what is needed for this in terms of insurance. Dell says the groomer needs some work, but is otherwise in good condition. 
The last priority for now is to track down information about registering the cabins, shelters and trails. 
Gordie Graham was also at the meeting. He asks what about ATVers who are interested in joining the club. While there is some discussion of the topic, the feeling is that it would probably be best to have a separate ATV club. Cronier says this is purely a practical recommendation. “The insurance that BCSF provides only covers snowmobiles. They’re not saying ATVers aren’t allowed, just that they aren’t covered.”
However, not everyone shares his opinion. Randy Gulick says that there’s not that many people in Tumbler Ridge. “There’s a better chance of one club making it than two or three,” says Gulick. “Ninty percent of snowmobilers have ATVS, and there’s not enough people to support multiple clubs. And a lot of the snowmobile trails are cleaned in the summertime by ATVers.”
The club’s next meeting is February 7 at 8 pm in Room 1.