By Andrea Arnold

Both the McBride and Valemount communities have been affected by low snowmobile numbers so far this season.

According to the groomer report, the three main sledding destinations in the McBride area, Lucille, Belle and Renshaw fell from 8,449 last season to 5,740 in the same three month span this year.

Dec 2021 – 2345, Jan 2022 – 2724, Feb 2022 – 3380 = 8,449

Dec 2022 – 1728, Jan 2023 – 1276, Feb 2023 – 2736 = 5,740

“Due to lack of snow and warm weather at the beginning of the season it gave a slow start to our sled season,” said Dave Mcleod, president of the McBride Big country Snowmobile Association. “Things are ramping up with new snow in the forecast.”

Valemount has also seen a significant decrease in sledder tourism this year. The three most frequently visited areas around the community, Allan Creek, Chappell Creek and Clemina Creek have all had less traffic. Between December 2021- February 2022, the area had 12,738 users. This year, the same three months brought 8,330 riders to the trails.

Dec 2021 – 3427, Jan 2022 – 6415, Feb 2022 – 2896 = 12,738

Dec 2022 – 1878, Jan 2023 –  3222, Feb 2023 – 3230 = 8,330

“There are many factors that play into this including weather, perceived lack of accommodation, as well as drastically rising costs of living,” said Valemount and Area Recreation Development Association Executive Director Curtis Pawliuk. “VARDA will continue to work closely with Tourism Valemount and our other stakeholders to try to encourage users to return to our beautiful valley for recreation in the years ahead.”