Thanks to $10-Million Grant From Province, Avalanche Canada Expanding Forecasts to Vancouver Island and Adding Northern BC Field Team

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Avalanche Canada,
Credit: Avalanche Canada

Avalanche Canada will be providing forecasts on Vancouver Island and expanding programs in northern BC thanks to a $10 million grant from the BC Government announced on May 17. With this funding, new field teams will be established on Vancouver Island and in north-central BC.

“We are very happy to now have the funding to expand our services. Our priority is stability. We never want to introduce a regional program and then have to curtail it after a few years. We need to know we can support a long-term commitment.”

– Gilles Valade, Executive Director of Avalanche Canada

Avalanche Canada will begin publishing regular forecasts for Vancouver Island in November. This service was previously provided by the volunteer-run Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society (VIACS) for the past 14 years. But even with strong support from their community, maintaining a public avalanche safety program is challenging for a small society.

“A tremendous amount of volunteer time and energy was required to provide this service. We are pleased that Avalanche Canada can now build on the solid foundation we’ve created.”

– Ryan Shelly, President of VIACS

Northern BC is also a priority for this new funding. A new field team will be established in north-central BC, with the exact location yet to be decided. Avalanche Canada has had a field team in the North Rockies region for the past two years, whose members are based in McBride and Prince George. An additional field team in the north will provide more vital data for those regional forecasts.

“This grant will help to ensure the long-term sustainability of existing programs in the province. This 10-year funding agreement means we can focus less energy on securing funding and more on delivering programs to British Columbians.”

– Gilles Valade, Executive Director of Avalanche Canada

Avalanche Canada is extremely grateful to receive the $10 million grant from the BC government.

“This funding ensures long-term sustainability for all our programs and allows us to expand our services to under-served regions of the province. The BC Government has supported us since our inception in 2004, and we look forward to continuing this valuable partnership into the future.”

– Gilles Valade

The grant was announced by Mike Farnworth, the BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in Victoria on Monday, May 17.

“Avalanche Canada has been advocating for funding certainty for a number of years, and this grant responds to that need. The work they do is vital to our public safety, particularly as interest in winter recreation grows and as the frequency of extreme weather increases due to climate change, and I’m pleased we are able to work with this organization to support their important work.”

– Minister Farnworth

As Canada’s national public avalanche safety organization, Avalanche Canada provides services from the Yukon to Newfoundland & Labrador, but 90% of these are delivered in BC. Nine out of this past winter’s 10 avalanche fatalities occurred in B.C., and historically 75% of all Canadian avalanche fatalities occur in this province.

“Winter backcountry recreation is part of the fabric of B.C. and a key driver of winter tourism. Our courses, outreach, and forecasts empower people to enjoy the backcountry and be safe from avalanches.”

– Gilles Valade

We would like to especially thank Doug Clovechok, the MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke. He has been a strong and consistent champion for public avalanche safety and has advocated for us in the legislature.

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