Provincial conservation officers Shawn Schofield, left, and Trevor MacKinnon (seated on Ski-doos) will be out patrolling the Confederation Trail this winter. They’ll be making sure users have the proper permits, educating the public on trail safety and checking for impaired drivers. Pictured at back are RCMP Sgt. Leanne Butler, left, and Cathy Dickieson, administrator with the P.E.I. Snowmobile Association.
©Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Shawn Schofield and Trevor MacKinnon are bringing an extra level of security to P.E.I.’s Confederation Trail this winter.
The two conservation officers with the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice will be assisted by RCMP and members of the P.E.I. Snowmobile Association to conduct safety stops at various locations along the 400-plus kilometres of the trail.
The association is the leaseholder of the Confederation Trail during the winter months, which allows permit holders access to the trail from one tip of P.E.I. to the other.
Schofield and MacKinnon won’t be advertising where they’re going to be but promise to do their best to make their presence known.
“We pick our spots,’’ Schofield told The Guardian on Thursday.
“If there’s going to be a lot of people around we’d make sure that we were there to show our presence.’’
MacKinnon said, for the most part, they’ll be doing routine patrols.
Cathy Dickieson, administrator for the P.E.I. Snowmobile Association, said there are 1,800 members who use the trail. She said the season is in full swing now and has been busy in the western part of the province for weeks.
The trail is maintained by the group relying on the fees paid by users.
RCMP Sgt. Leanne Butler said Schofield and MacKinnon will be checking for the proper permits but also for any signs of impairment of drivers, noting that the same rules apply on the trail as they do on the province’s highways.
“Snowmobiles are no different than a car,’’ Butler said, adding that the presence of the two conservation officers will strengthen the enforcement effort and make the whole trail system safer and more enjoyable for all users.
Snow on the Island has been less than consistent up until this week but snowmobile enthusiasts take every opportunity to get out and enjoy the sights.
A Charlottetown resident enjoying a walk on a part of the trail in the capital on Thursday said the officers are a welcome addition.
“I use the trail quite a bit,’’ said the woman, who didn’t want to give her name. “I think it’s a reasonable expense to make sure they’re used properly.’’
• It is illegal be operate a Ski-doo or snowmobile impaired.
• Always wear a helmet.
• Slow down at night.
• Check local ice conditions before riding.
• When crossing roads, yield to traffic.
• Never ride alone.
• Be aware of hazards like fences, poles, etc.
• Make sure trail permit is posted.