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Reducing avalanche fatalities through education

How Stantec is helping Avalanche Canada meet its goal of ZERO

By James Heck

In 2011, I was part of a group of Stantec employees in the Calgary office who approached our local Community Engagement team with the idea of hosting a fundraising event by screening the award-winning avalanche education film The Fine Line. We asked for Stantec’s support to rent out a local movie theatre for the event and donate all the money raised to an important local charity – Avalanche Canada (formerly called the Canadian Avalanche Foundation).

The organizers of the event all share the same obsession for the outdoors and safety. Our Stantec group is just a collection of passionate climbers and skiers who felt compelled to contribute to a community and cause that impacts our personal and professional lives. Avalanche Canada was a natural match for us. Year after year, friends and loved ones lose their lives in avalanche related fatalities. Education and awareness can help prevent these tragedies from occurring.

While staff in our Alberta and British Columbia offices are lucky to have mountains in our backyards, Stantec’s support of Avalanche Canada goes beyond our personal interests. This relationship is key to keeping our staff safe on the job. Our employees are involved in a number of projects proposing pipeline routes, spanning several mountain regions in central and northern British Columbia. This terrain includes the Coast Mountains, the Interior Plateau, and the Northern Rockies, all of which can be challenging and unpredictable environments.

These projects sparked a great opportunity for Stantec to leverage our relationship with Avalanche Canada to provide the training needed to keep our field staff educated and equipped for the hazards. We were connected with avalanche professionals who work directly with our employees and our clients to develop avalanche safety plans, map avalanche terrain, assess risk, and assist with facility location planning in avalanche terrain along proposed right of ways. Their expertise and experience has given our field staff the confidence to battle the elements.

After our screening event, we were taken aback by the outstanding turnout of our colleagues, friends, and families. The money raised at that one event allowed us to hand over a cheque to Avalanche Canada for over $1,350. Every year since then, Stantec has continuously supported this foundation.

I feel a great sense of pride knowing that Stantec is doing its part to help prevent avalanche related incidents and reach the goal of zero fatalities in a year.

Avalanche Canada provides daily public avalanche forecasts to most of the mountainous regions in western Canada. They develop and coordinate public avalanche training, deliver youth awareness seminars, and create and deliver programs for specific user groups such as snowmobilers. They also contribute and collaborate on avalanche safety research programs. For more information on Avalanche Canada visit www.avalanche.ca

Photo of skier Chris Clarke by James Heck

We are a group of passionate climbers and skiers who felt compelled to contribute to a community and cause that impacts our personal and professional lives

Photo by Stantec’s Julia Stanislawski, of her husband, Marcin

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