The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is rebranding for 2014-15, carving its own identity from that previously shared with the Canadian Avalanche Association and the Canadian Avalanche Foundation.
“We were sharing the logo and similar names with the Association and the Foundation, and it was difficult to differentiate,” said CAC’s executive director Gilles Valade. “Now we are separate and completely different organizations.”
The CAC, which will now be known as Avalanche Canada (AC), will also adopt a new logo and website design although the site’s URL www.avalanche.ca will remain the same.
“That was one important consideration in the rebranding,” said Valade, “to make sure we didn’t change something that was fundamental to safety.”
Last season was the final year of the three-year Mountain Snowmobiling Avalanche Incident Prevention Project (MSAIPP), funded by the federal government’s Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund.
The threefold project focused on social science, avalanche education and outreach and education initiatives that included survey work with the snowmobiling community, bursaries for avalanche training, the Go Farther training campaign, the Throttle Decisions video and other safety-focused initiatives.
“It is a great legacy that this project leaves behind,” said Valade. “We are essentially set up and good to go for the future.”
Most importantly, the MSAIPP changed the relationship between Avalanche Canada and the snowmobile community, said Valade.
“That has affected the culture here at the Centre,” he said. “We are much more in tune with snowmobiling and it is a big part of our day and of our day-to-day conversation. We will continue with this initiative moving forward.”
Part of the project’s funding was earmarked to create a snowmobile outreach co-ordinator position, and although the project has ended, AC will continue with the position, filled by Brent Strand.
“Brent is a ten-year veteran of the Centre, he snowmobiles and he has been doing outreach for a long time,” said Valade.
Moving into the 2014-15 season, AC hopes to continue with the dramatic decrease in snowmobiler fatalities that has occurred over the past few years.
“A success of the [MSAIPP] program was that the trend in fatalities was down from previous years,” said Valade. “There were about 15 in Canada last season and the majority were not snowmobilers. There weren’t the big wrecks there have been in years past so things are getting better.”
And bettering the safety record is a strong initiative moving forward.
The Throttle Decision video will be relaunched this year with another push within the sledding community.
An updated Avalanche Canada mobile app
The Avalanche Canada Mobile app, launched last year, is available for download with its Outreach Network upgrade, which allows snowmobilers to post snow and weather conditions from data sparse areas.
“We hope snowmobilers take to it because we are counting on them to carry information in from areas where there are no commercial companies sending in that information,” said Valade.
Essentially a crowdsourcing application the program will undergo further improvements in 2015 that will allow for more detailed data entry.
“Right now they can record their observations in a few sentences and a photo and send it to the centre where other people can see it on the map,” said Valade. “So if you want to go to an area that is data sparse, you can get some information based on others’ experiences.
“I think the message going in to the season is the same as usual,” he added. “Get the training, get the gear, and get the forecast--and now we add on get the app. Get the mobile app and start using it because it is only as good as the number of people using it.”