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No more funding, no more forecasts: Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre

VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – For those looking for avalanche forecasts, there will be no more this season.

According to a Facebook post from the Vancouver Island Avalanche Center Society (VIACS), they no longer have funding to operate until next winter. The centre added that April 14th was the last day of their forecasting.

The centre also wrote in a blog post that they will be back next season to keep forecasting.

“We have to wrap up for another year as we have come to the bottom of the piggy bank, even though there is still significant avalanche hazard out there in our spring snow pack,” the centre wrote.

“Be diligent out there if you are going to take advantage of the amazing spring ski touring that the island has to offer. Wait a few days after the bigger spring snow storms, watch for rapid warming of the upper snowpack (by rising air temps, sun and even rain), and give cornices a wide berth until they fail and fall.”

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The Vancouver Island Avalanche Center Society is a non-profit volunteer-run society. Volunteers look through weather forecasts and write avalanche warnings and bulletins. Some volunteers are out in the field scouting locations.

According to Ryan Shelly, president of the VIACS, the society has been providing the service for ten years, and rely solely on public donations. The centre does not receive funding from either the provincial or federal government.

“We’ve (fundraised) through a variety of different means in terms of auctions, public speaking engagements with the intention of raising enough funds to pay for avalanche forecasting services,” Shelly said.

“There are fees attached, because (avalanche forecasting) does require a bit of work in terms of travel into the field, into the mountains, as well as desk time work. There are also insurance fees attached to that, of course. All of this is to say that there’s a lot of free donated time that goes toward providing this public avalanche safety service.”

“The only issue is when a little bit of funding doesn’t come through as we hope, the avalanche centre and subsequently the public, suffer in terms of loss of a few weeks of avalanche forecasts on either end of the season.”

The Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre accepts donations online through their website as well.

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