Assessing the Sustainability of Snowmobiling Trails across Ontario

The proposed research seeks to understand how marginal winter conditions have impacted Ontario snowmobile trails in the past in order to make inferences about the future. The project will combine historic climate data (1989-2019), operational indicators (trail opening/closing, permit sales), and Regional Climate Model (RCM) outputs for the Province of Ontario to explore the implications of persistent marginal snowmobiling conditions and/or loss of district trails on long-term participation in the sport. The results of this study will directly benefit the partner organization by providing insight into which district trails will be climatically viable in the future, along with insight into shifting snowmobiler demand patterns under warmer conditions. The results will allow industry managers to prepare for supply- and demand-side changes in both the near-term (2050s) and longer-term (2080s), guiding decision-making on how best to invest and distribute limited resources (e.g., groomers, fuel, infrastructure) across Ontario’s 30,000km trail network.

Faculty Supervisor:

Michelle Rutty


Francesca Cardwell


Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs


Environmental sciences


Arts, entertainment and recreation


University of Waterloo



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