Columbia basin Trust helps fund Avalanche Canada

A member of Avalanche Canada’s South Rockies Field Team helps keep backcountry users safe. Columbia Basin Trust is committing $450,000 over three years to the organization. / SUPPLIED BY AVALANCHE CANADA

by GOAT STAFF

Avalanche Canada continues to raise the collective consciousness of backcountry users about avalanche risks and conditions in the form of added funding, and a lot of it.

The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) will help to support Avalanche Canada’s work by funding the non-profit organization with $450,000 over three years.

“We’re blessed with beautiful mountains here in the Basin, which means we have to be smart when we play out there in the winter,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer.

“The efforts of Avalanche Canada not only help protect residents, but help our region continue to attract winter tourists,” he says.

To increase public avalanche safety, Avalanche Canada issues daily avalanche forecasts throughout the winter for many of the mountainous regions of western Canada, providing this free information via their website and mobile app.

The non-profit also coordinates and delivers avalanche awareness and education programs, acts as a central point of contact for avalanche information and performs avalanche research projects.

Over the winter months, Avalanche Canada employs over 30 people through its head office in Revelstoke and its field team in Fernie, according to a press release.

“The efforts of Avalanche Canada not only help protect residents, but help our region continue to attract winter tourists,” — Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer.

Avalanche Canada programs and services extend to almost all of the Columbia Basin, according to the press release. Of its 12 forecast regions, eight are in the Basin, making up over half of the area it covers.

The Basin is also where most avalanche fatalities occur in Canada: Avalanche Canada says 52 per cent between 2000 and 2014, which is why the non-profit’s work is so vital to the region.

The region encompasses nearly 80,000 square kilometers of southeastern British Columbia and has a population of nearly 150,000 people, according to the 2011 census.

“We are extremely grateful for this support from Columbia Basin Trust,” said Gilles Valade, Avalanche Canada’s Executive Director.

“Predictable multi-year funding is critical for our operations and allows us to maintain our services for the backcountry community,” he says.

CBT funded Avalanche Canada in similar fashion going back to 2015 and 2016, with $370,000 over two and a half years, according to the Trust.

In addition to continuing its ongoing activities, Avalanche Canada says it used the previous funding for items like developing a new website, upgrading its technology and introducing the Mountain Information Network, which allows backcountry users to share real-time data and observations from the field.

To learn more about Avalanche Canada, visit avalanche.ca.