Avalanche Canada gets some financial help
The federal government has granted Avalanche Canada with a windfall endowment of $25 million.
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s economic statement, which was presented in Ottawa on Nov. 21, announced the delivery of the one-time endowment.
“There are number of needs for improvement, so I went up to do the finance minister and was approved,” says Karl Klassen, the warning service manager for Avalanche Canada.
Klassen says once Avalanche Canada receives details about how the endowment will be delivered, the group’s first priority will be to ensure that Avalanche Canada’s current and beneficial programs will be sustainable over time.
“We produce avalanche forecasts, we do outreach to the public to make people more aware about avalanches, we do a youth education program, and we manage the recreational Avalanche course curriculum,” Klassen explains.
If there is money left over after the current programs are considered sustainable, Klassen says Avalanche Canada officials will then decide if they can expand their current programming into other areas. Klassen says expansions would include moving more services into the North Rockies area, which is north of Prince George, B.C., and then east to the Alberta borders. Klassen adds that both areas are heavily used, but don’t have a lot in the way of avalanche information. There are also needs in the Yukon, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador that Klassen would like to see addressed.
“It's a large amount of money and it's gonna make a big difference for public avalanche safety in Canada,” Klassen notes. “If nothing else, just stabilizing our current programming is a huge step forward.”
Avalanche Canada was formed in the fall of 2004, is in its 15th season, and was founded because of a terrible winter in 2002-2003 that resulted in many fatalities and created a need for an awareness program. Klassen says half of the funding comes from endowments and the other half comes from donations, sponsorships from private individuals, companies that support Avalanche Canada’s cause. Revenue also comes from selling various merchandise that promotes awareness about Avalanche Canada.
Klassen says that people who trek into the mountains should first visit Avalanche Canada’s website, www.avalanche.ca, so they can be aware of the conditions and know what equipment they need to make their trekking experience a safe one.
“Everyone should at least have a probe, a transceiver, and a shovel and should be trained on how to use that equipment and practise using it before they go into the mountains,” Klassen said.