Ski Canada Magazine
ISLAND ALPS GROW UP
Dismissed as too small, too wet and not busy enough, the so-called Vancouver Island Alps have long been ignored by the B.C. avalanche community, including by Avalanche Canada. The national snow safety organization issues avalanche forecasts for just about every mountain range in the province except on the island, despite its deep snowpack and rugged mountains.
All that changes this winter. A 10year, $10-million funding agreement with the provincial government will allow Avalanche Canada to take over publishing regular avalanche forecasts for Vancouver Island, expand its coverage in the north of the province and bring more security to all its operations.
“This grant will help to ensure the long-term sustainability of existing programs in the province,” says
Gilles Valade, executive director of Avalanche Canada. “Our priority is stability. We never want to introduce a regional program and then have to curtail it after a few years.”
For the past 14 winters, the volunteer-run Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society issued bulletins for the region. But raising funds to pay forecasters and run the website was always a struggle, particularly last year, says Ryan Shelly, president of VIACS.
“A tremendous amount of volunteer time and energy was required to provide this service,” says Shelly. “We are pleased that Avalanche Canada can now build on the solid foundation we’ve created.”
An Avalanche Canada forecast team will be stationed on Vancouver Island throughout the winter and begin issuing bulletins in November. In addition, the organization is adding a field team to its northern B.C. operations, says Valade.