Province grants $500,000 for backcountry safety 

Funds split between CAC and BCSAR

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The provincial government is giving another half a million dollars in gaming grants to beef up public safety in the backcountry this winter.

The money will be split evenly - $250,000 for the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) and $250,000 for the BC Search and Rescue Association. That brings gaming grant funding to $4.1 million for search and rescue, firefighting and other emergency-related organizations to date.

As she announced the funding, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton again reinforced the message to backcountry users to be prepared before going out.

"The Canadian Avalanche Centre an BC Search and Rescue Association, along with their membership, do tremendous work educating people about safe practices when heading into the winter backcountry - work that saves lives," said Anton. "We encourage everyone to listen to these experts: get the gear, get the training, check the forecasts and leave a plan."

On average ten people die each year in B.C. either skiing, snowboarding or snowmobiling; another 15 people die from hypothermia or exposure to cold.

"We've seen a steady downward trend in the number of avalanche fatalities over the past ten years," said Gilles Valade, executive director with the CAC. "This is especially significant when we consider the tremendous increase in winter backcountry use over that same time period. This funding allows us to continue to provide our public avalanche warning service as well as our public education efforts."

Check out Pique on Thursday for more on this story.

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