Avalanche Canada gets some fi­nan­cial help

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Prairies/swift Current - BY HEATHER CAMERON

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.

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