words:: Ben Osborne photos:: courtesy of Avalanche Canada
In a country littered with mountainous landscapes presenting serious hazards to the people who inhabit it, it seems logical for the government to have heavy involvement in avalanche mitigation. Since 2004, Avalanche Canada has received funding from the federal government. A few days ago, they received news that will surely alter the landscape of avalanche mitigation, education, and forecasting for a long time—in the form of a $25 million dollar investment from the federal government.
In the past, much of the resources have been centred around backcountry hotspots such as Coastal British Columbia and Alberta. With this recent injection of life, the non-profit will aim to spread the “size and scope” of Avalanche Canada’s safety program to areas such as Quebec, Northern BC, Newfoundland, and the Yukon. Arguably Canada’s deadliest natural hazard, and with the growing popularity of backcountry travel, there is no doubt this is an important step towards keeping the public safe.
According to Mary Clayton with Avalanche Canada, in the past, the non-profit has operated off of a $2 million per year budget to run their safety programs and forecasting services. With this new investment, their ability to operate and formally educate the public will clearly be greatly enhanced.
“Anybody who goes into the backcountry will tell you about the growth of use in our winter backcountry,” says, Clayton. “We reached a tipping point, and we were at a point where we were going to have to cut services unless we could do something about our resources, so this is going to make a big difference,”
For anyone who has spent time in Canada’s mountains, it is abundantly clear that a comprehensive plan to manage the steep slopes and abundant snowfall must be put in place for the drivers, recreationists, home-owners and more who are constantly threatened by such a powerful natural hazard. This certainly seems like a step in the right direction, and we can’t wait to see one of our favourite non-profits grow and evolve. —ML