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Ottawa renews funding for national avalanche centre

Federal government commits $625,000

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The Canadian Avalanche Centre received a $625,000 boost from Environment Canada this week as the federal government renewed its commitment to the centre.

The money, which includes $400,000 from Parks Canada over four years and $225,000 from the Meteorological Service of Canada over three years (both organizations are under the Environment Canada umbrella), will be used for public safety programs.

“Today’s funding announcement allows us to continue to develop and deliver these programs and services across Canada and in both official languages,” Clair Israelson, executive director of the Canadian Avalanche Centre, said in a release issued Sept. 5.

Israelson said avalanches are “by far the deadliest natural hazard in Canada, killing more people than forest fires, floods, earthquakes and lightning combined.”

The Canadian Avalanche Centre was established in 2004 following the deadly 2003 season. Twenty-nine people died in avalanches in the winter of 2002-03, including 14 in two massive avalanches that occurred two weeks apart in the Revelstoke area.

A B.C. coroner’s office and a public avalanche safety program reviewed the 2002-03 season and in January 2004 recommended the creation of a national avalanche centre. In February of that year the federal government announced it would contribute $525,000 over three years for the creation of the Canadian Avalanche Centre and avalanche safety programs. Last week the federal government renewed that $175,000 annual commitment.

The B.C. government announced late in 2003 that it would contribute $125,000 annually to the Canadian Avalanche Association, which runs the national avalanche centre. The B.C. contribution came one year after the province had cut its annual contribution to the CAA from $37,500 to $2,500.

The Alberta government contributes $100,000 to the CAA annually.

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