RCMP Patrolling the Trails
Patrolling the Trails
One of the most common complaints heard from clubs is why we don’t see more police on the trails. This has been going on for many years with little change. Inquiries have been made, meetings have been held, but yet we seldom see police of any kind on the trail. The current SSA board has been working on this for many years and have finally seen some progress in 2021 which will result in more police patrolling our trails.
First some background. RCMP in Saskatchewan continue to be understaffed in nearly all areas which affects front line policing the most. Members are dealing with assaults, domestics, property crime, traffic complaints and many more similar calls for service which increases year after year. As a result, members are running continuously and are getting tired. From our prospective we can’t understand why it is so difficult to get more police on the trails. Sounds like a great job right! The reality is police do not have the time to commit to patrolling our trails with the criminal code work load they carry. When they actually get a slow day they have paperwork to catch up on and sometimes just need a breather.
The SSA staff and board have held meetings with Saskatchewan Environment to discuss ways to have more Conservation Officers patrolling our trails. We have been told directly that this is not a possibility and does not meet the current mandate of the ministry. Conservation Officers are also very busy and over the years have taken on more and more tasks which won’t allow them the time to spend patrolling the trails.
Experience and statistics show that the largest number of unregistered snowmobiles is around the urban centres. With so many more people and a greater disconnect from our local clubs, the number of people registering their snowmobiles is low. The smaller, rural areas general see higher compliance rates and I will show an example of this a little later.
Now the good news.
Now the good news. The SSA has been consistently working with the RCMP in an effort to keep the dialogue open and find ways to get more police out there. In 2021 this effort was rewarded as the SSA was told that the RCMP have made steps to increase police presence on the trails. The Combined Traffic Services Saskatchewan (CTSS) have a mandate of keeping our highways safe and focusing on impaired driving and traffic violations. CTSS has been given the green light to expand their services to include not only snowmobile patrols, but ATV and water patrols as well. This past summer more police were on the water enforcing impaired boating, alcohol offences and other legislation related to water safety.
Since the snow has been flying furiously this winter in Saskatchewan, members of CTSS have been out on sleds enforcing registration and checking for alcohol use. In the north areas like Christopher Lake, Emma Lake and Candle Lake, CTSS have been patrolling frequently already and several unregistered tickets have been issued. Plans are currently underway to team up with bylaw officers in these areas to do joint patrols throughout the winter. Expect to see many more officers on sleds as the winter rolls on.
CTSS recently spent a weekend in the Hudson Bay area with 4 officers patrolling in teams of 2 for both days. Many snowmobilers were spoken to with many laughs and stories shared. Photos were taken and shared on Facebook by some of the clubs in the area. As a result of this weekend patrol there was a 100% compliance rate on registered snowmobiles on the trails. This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about larger compliance rates in the rural areas.
2021 has been a difficult year for all of us, including the SSA staff and board. However, through this pandemic the staff and board have continued working hard to get things done and continue to press forward. This new development of more police on the trails has been one of the greatest accomplishments we have seen in recent years and we are very excited. We know that there are many unregistered snowmobiles using the trails and shelters that our volunteers work so hard to maintain. We look forward to seeing RCMP as they patrol our trails and enforce this important legislation.