Three levels of government support for the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) were represented today, as BC MLA Bill Bennett announced a three-year program aimed at lowering the rate of avalanche deaths within the mountain snowmobiling community. Joining MLA Bennett in the announcement was Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks and Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano.
“The Mountain Snowmobile Education Project will help prepare snowmobilers with knowledge that could save their lives,” said East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett. “British Columbia’s world-class winter tourism includes snowmobiling as a major attraction. The safety of our residents and visitors is a priority for our province and a commitment we take seriously.”
The Mountain Snowmobile Education Project is funded by a grant from the National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSS), a department of National Defence. “NSS grants are just one way that the Government of Canada has made its contributions to public avalanche safety,” said Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks. “Environment Canada—through Parks Canada and the Meteorological Service of Canada—is also a long-time supporter of the CAC. We are pleased to support programs and services that provide a public safety net and enrich the lives of Canadians and our visitors.”
This project has special meaning for the Fernie area, one of the province’s hotspots for mountain snowmobiling. Speaking for the municipal government of Fernie, Mayor Giuliano said her community is proud to support the CAC. “The CAC’s avalanche forecast for this region is a highly valued product for many of our residents as well as our visitors,” she said. “Public avalanche safety affects all of us who live in BC.”
The Mountain Snowmobile Education Project will build on an already promising foundation, said CAC Executive Director Ian Tomm. “Last year we saw a big jump in training among mountain sledders, along with a tremendous shift in attitude towards avalanche safety,” Tomm explained. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with clubs and organizations to increase the avalanche knowledge base and skill level within this community.”