Federal infrastructure advances avalanche safety in Glacier National Park
Canada’s national parks and national historic sites belong to all Canadians and tell the stories of who we are, including the histories, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous peoples. Historically, the rugged Columbia Mountains home to Glacier National Park and Rogers Pass National Historic Site have both attracted and been a formidable challenge for Indigenous peoples, early explorers, and railway surveyors. Today, these mountains continue to be an iconic tourism destination and the Trans-Canada Highway serves as a critically important route for travel, trade, and transportation.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, announced the installation of an Avalanche Detection Network on the Trans-Canada Highway in Glacier National Park to improve safety for visitors travelling through or visiting the park during the winter.
The Avalanche Detection Network will be the first of its kind in Canada and the largest, most extensive detection network in the world. The monitoring instruments, located near avalanche paths along the Trans-Canada Highway in Rogers Pass, will use radar and infrasound technology to provide real-time avalanche activity information. The system will provide early warning of increasing avalanche activity, promoting faster response, greater safety for travellers, and an overall reduction in highway closure time.
This builds upon measures put in place to reduce avalanche risk, including several new Remote Avalanche Control Systems and 2,200 metres of netting that hold the snow pack in place on steep mountain terrain where avalanches would traditionally start.
The safety of Canadians is the priority of the Government of Canada. Working with Canadians to provide greater and safer opportunities to enjoy the nature that is so integral to Canada’s heritage builds on the Government’s commitment to protect the environment and grow the economy.
“Canada boasts scenic backcountry landscapes and world-renowned slopes. Canadians across the country, and people around the world, come here every year to connect with nature. With the largest avalanche detection network in the world, we are working with Canadians to create greater and safer opportunities to enjoy the nature we love so much.”
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
- The Avalanche Detection Network will be installed with an $18 million investment through federal infrastructure funding.
- Today’s announcement builds on previously announced funding of $77 million for Trans-Canada Highway avalanche risk reduction and safety improvements in Glacier National Park.
- This Avalanche Detection Network technology will provide important information for the avalanche control program, managed jointly by Parks Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces.
- Along the Trans-Canada Highway, a new passing lane near Rogers Pass summit and additional safe parking areas have been created for use during highway closures and a number of improvements have been made to highway snowsheds. Replacing aging culverts under the Trans-Canada Highway in Rogers Pass is also improving aquatic connectivity for fish like native bull trout.
- Parks Canada is responsible for more than 1,000 km of highways that pass through Canada’s national parks and national historic sites across the country. In Rogers Pass, there are 134 avalanche paths that affect the Trans-Canada Highway, along the 42 km section in Glacier National Park, making it one of the most complex highway avalanche programs in the world.
- Since 1961, Parks Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces, under Operation PALACI, have partnered to operate the largest mobile artillery avalanche control program in the world.
- Parks Canada is investing an unprecedented $3 billion over five years to support infrastructure work to heritage, tourism, waterways, and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas across Canada.