Club will carry on
LITTLE CURRENT––The Manitoulin Snowdusters Snowmobile Club has a new president. Director Wayne Williamson stepped up at a meeting held at Café in the Woods in Honora Bay on Wednesday, June 27.
Sudbury Trail Plan District 12 Vice President Richard Bleskie attended and chaired the meeting on behalf of the Manitoulin club. The reason for the meeting, Mr. Bleskie explained, was the unfilled president position following the resignation of Doran McVey at the annual general meeting in May.
Without a president, the club was in danger of dissolving.
“If we don’t get a president, the club can continue to run temporarily,” said Mr. Bleskie as he explained available options. “Rick (Bond, club vice president) can act as temporary interim president until someone steps up. If he doesn’t want to, the club will have to cease to exist somehow.”
If the club dissolved, the corporation would be dissolved and trails on the Island closed permanently.
Mr. Bleskie acknowledged the work outgoing President Doran McVey has done over the years and noted, “Doran is willing to help out as much as possible. He will still work on new trails and sit on the executive. He’s still here.”
“One of the good things is that with Rick and Doran here, you can always phone them up and they will answer your questions. If they were to just leave, it would be a lot more difficult (for the new president and executive).”
The Sudbury Trail Plan District (STP) wants the Snowdusters to remain as a viable club, said Mr. Bleskie. “We want to see the club here, in the district and in the province, but we can’t take it over. We can’t run the club. We can support the president and the board and we’re only a phone call away.”
He opened the floor to nominations for president. While no one wanted to see the club fold, only Wayne Williamson felt able to commit to the role and was acclaimed.
“The president’s role is more to lead the club and bring direction back to the club from the district,” Mr. Bleskie explained. “The district has meetings once per month in Lively. Every club has a member on the board and that’s the president. The district makes decisions about what’s going to happen over the season, over the next month and the next year. The district decides how its money is spent. The president brings that back to your club and you decide what you’re going to do at the club level.”
The club president does have to complete an annual operating report for the district; however, “with the exception of the treasurer’s report, it only takes about one-half hour to complete,” added Mr. Bleskie.
The district recognizes volunteers can get burned out and is looking at ways to alleviate that. Murray Baker, president of the STP, explained, “The district meets monthly from September through May. This district is geographically very large. We have to come up with another method of meeting. We’re all volunteers. We as a board are going to decide how we’re going to do that, maybe teleconference half the time instead of driving two hours there and two hours home again. We have to adapt to that.”
Mr. Bleskie concurred. “The club meetings are more important,” he said. “That’s where you do all the work. That’s where things happen. That’s where you have to get people involved, to have some way of organizing the work. You have to spread out the work load.”
“The number of hours worked by volunteers varies from club to club,” said Mr. Bleskie. “It depends on how many people are helping, depends on how much support you have from your members. That’s the most important part of being president – getting people out.”
Several coordinator positions were discussed and filled at the meeting also. First up was signage. “The president is responsible for the signage,” he said, “but you can have a signage coordinator who has people working under him.” The signage coordinator would determine where signs were needed and organize work crews to install and maintain signage. Ron Noland volunteered to act as signage coordinator.
The district supplies all necessary signage and posts but the club must install the signs. It was noted that signage on Manitoulin trails was a mix of signs including a number of obsolete ones. Mr. Bleskie responded by offering to attend a sign meeting in the fall. “I’ll come out and bring an overhead projector,” he said. “I’ll show you what signs you need and how to install them.”
Brian Moser is the land use coordinator. Michael Skippen will be the groomer coordinator. The trail coordinator position was split into east and west trails, with Mark Anderson taking the east and Doran McVey acting as west trails coordinator. Dave Mack agreed to act as trail patrol coordinator.
“The trail patrol coordinator role is not as difficult as it used to be,” said Mr. Bleskie. “We no longer hand out trespassing tickets.” It’s more of an ambassador role these days. “The trail patrol coordinator recruits members on the trails, helps people in need of assistance and looks for problems. If there are problems on the trails you need someone organizing the work to make sure every trail gets done.”
The Volunteer in Action (VIA) coordinator position remains open. The VIA would recruit volunteers and get nominations for awards at the end of the year. There is an informal annual VIA meeting where coordinators discuss how to attract and retain volunteers.
Mr. Bleskie offered to write and send job descriptions for the various coordinator and executive roles to the club.
Mr. Baker offered congratulations “for all the people who stood up. It’s good to see new faces. This is a community-based organization. We as a district are here to assist but we won’t come unless we’re invited. We help coordinate but it’s up to the community, to the volunteers who want to ride. That’s what it’s all about.”
“Manitoulin has over 400 km of trails. It’s a big club, geographically. That’s scary to take on and I admire you for taking it on. Make sure you spread out the work. Give people ownership of their area,” advised Mr. Baker. “I’m really excited about what I saw here tonight.”
Before adjourning, a moment of silence was held in honour of long time, dedicated club member Brad Middleton, who passed away in May, 2018.
For more information on the Manitoulin Snowdusters, search for ‘The Manitoulin Snowdusters’ on Facebook. If you enjoy riding the trails, consider getting involved. It’s a worthwhile community-building activity, and keeps your trails groomed and safe.