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Snowmobiling is both an exciting recreational activity and a method of winter travel in Ontario. In Spring 2001, changes to the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act and supporting regulations, and the Trespass to Property Act were made to enhance snowmobile safety and enforcement, and improve trail sustainability. This information package identifies these changes and outlines how they will affect the snowmobiling community.

The following details the changes made to the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act and its regulations:

Trail Permit Requirements

  • Every snowmobile driven on an Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs trail is required to display a valid trail permit (Please see exemptions listed below).
  • The trail permit must be attached to the bottom centre of the windshield, or to the top of the engine hood as close as possible to the windshield. The permit must be clearly visible at all times.
  • Every Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs trail must have signs stating “OFSC Prescribed Trail” posted every 5 kilometres or less and at intersections with other trails or roadways.
  • To purchase a trail permit for a snowmobile, the vehicle identification number (VIN) must be recorded on the application. Previously, the registration number was recorded on the application.

Trail Permit Exemptions

Trail permit exemptions have been given to:

  • Landowners and their tenants and immediate family members.
  • Crown land tenants and their immediate family members.
  • Aboriginal people of Canada.
  • Bait harvesters, commercial fish harvesters, trappers, prospectors, forest workers, utility companies and mining or exploration companies.

For complete details on trail permit exemptions, please refer to Ontario Regulation 185/01 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act.

Insurance Requirements

  • Every snowmobile must be insured while being driven in Ontario except if being operated on the owner’s property.
  • The owner of a snowmobile shall not allow anyone to drive their snowmobile unless it is insured.
  • The driver of a snowmobile must provide proof of valid insurance at the request of a police officer or conservation officer.
  • The fine for not having valid insurance ranges from $200 to $1,000.
  • A snowmobile is a motor vehicle for the purpose of the Insurance Act.

Driver’s Licence and Snowmobile Registration Requirements

  • In addition to carrying your driver’s licence or snowmobile operator’s licence, it is also a requirement to carry the snowmobile’s registration while operating a snowmobile. The only exception is if the snowmobile is being operated on the owner’s property.
  • These documents must be produced by the driver when requested by a police officer or conservation officer.
  • The fine for drivers who fail to produce valid registration for the snowmobile they are driving ranges from $200 to $1,000.

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Driving While Under Suspension

Drivers are prohibited from driving a snowmobile if their driver’s licence or snowmobile operator’s licence is under suspension. Drivers convicted of driving a snowmobile while their licence is under suspension will face: 

  • Fines of $1,000 to $5,000 for a first offence;
  • Fines of $2,000 to $5,000 for each subsequent offence; and/or
  • Imprisonment for a term of not more than six months.
  • A snowmobile operator’s licence will not be issued to anyone whose driver’s licence is under suspension.

Helmet Requirements

A helmet must be worn when driving or riding a snowmobile at all times. Helmets must comply with the motorcycle or motor-assisted bicycle standards as outlined in Regulation 610 of the Highway Traffic Act. This also applies to anyone who rides on a cutter, sled or similar device that is being towed by a snowmobile.

Lighting Revisions

When operating a snowmobile you are required to have at least one working head lamp at the front of the vehicle, and one working tail lamp at the rear of the vehicle. The head lamp must be white or amber in colour and the tail lamp must be red in colour. Both must be clearly visible for a distance of at least 150 metres.

Lamp are required to be turned on:

  • From one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise; or
  • When people and vehicles are not clearly visible for a distance of up to 150 meters due to weather conditions.

Reflective Material Requirements

Every cutter, sled or similar device being towed by a snowmobile is required to display a reflective device in the following locations:

  • One yellow reflector to be located on each side of the device at the front; and
  • One red reflector to be located on each side of the device at the rear; and
  • One or two red reflectors to be located across the rear of the device.

Fail to Stop for Police

Stiffer penalties have been introduced for snowmobile drivers who choose not to stop for police when directed to do so. Every person convicted of failing to stop for police will face:

  • A fine of $1,000 to $10,000; and/or
  • Imprisonment for a term up to six months.

Escape by Flight

Snowmobile drivers who are convicted of willfully continuing to avoid police following a police pursuit will face:

  • A fine of $5,000 to $25,000; and
  • Imprisonment for a term of 14 days to six months; and
  • uspension of their driver’s licence or snowmobile operator’s licence for five years.

If the driver’s conduct or the pursuit itself results in death or bodily harm of anyone, the suspension of their driver’s licence or snowmobile operator’s licence will be for a period of at least 10 years. This suspension period could be extended for the remainder of their life.

The following changes have been made to the Trespass to Property Act

Snowmobiles are now treated the same as any other vehicle in the Trespass to Property Act. Snowmobile owners can now be fined for trespassing offences committed by any individual who drives their snowmobile. If the driver does not have the owner’s permission to operate the snowmobile, the owner will not be liable for those offences committed by the driver.

A snowmobile driver can also be charged for trespassing offences.

The legislation and regulations are authoritative, not this fact sheet. This fact sheet is also not an exhaustive description of all the laws that apply. For complete details, refer to the appropriate Act and supporting regulations.

Want to learn more about staying safe on your snowmobile? Check out our blog post that gives you plenty of information about safety in the snow.

Author:
Algoma Insurance Brokers