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B.C. installs avalanche control system near Trans-Canada

REVELSTOKE, B.C. -- The province of B.C. has installed a new state-of-the-art remote avalanche control system just...

REVELSTOKE, B.C. — The province of B.C. has installed a new state-of-the-art remote avalanche control system just east of Revelstoke to reduce the threat of avalanches along the Trans-Canada Hwy.

"The Trans-Canada Highway is a major trading and travelling route not only for this region, but for all of Western Canada," said Columbia-Revelstoke MLA, Wendy McMahon. "It is imperative that crews have the best technology available to make this highway safe for travellers. This new remote avalanche control system is a big step in that direction."

The system is called Avalanche Guard and consists of a tower containing explosives which can be discharged from a safe location by remote control to trigger an avalanche. It has been installed on the Laurie avalanche path 50 kms east of Revelstoke. Four towers have been installed in three locations allowing crews to discharge the explosives exactly where required. The system is equipped with 60 charges which should last the entire avalanche season. The system cost $943,000.

"This new system improves safety and reliability on the Trans-Canada Highway," said B.C. Transportation Minister, Kevin Falcon. "Because crews can trigger the explosives by remote control, rather than by helicopter, we’ll be able to activate a controlled avalanche in poor weather conditions, day or night, even if the visibility is bad."

Large avalanches from the Laurie path affect the Trans-Canada about once every 3.5 winters, the province reports. However, preventive road closures are commonly imposed so crews can pre-emptively activate small avalanches using explosives.

"We’re committed to keeping B.C. highways safe, open and efficient so goods and people can move comfortably," said Falcon. "Our plan to modernize our highway system will create jobs, fuel economic growth and improve the quality of life for all British Columbians."

B.C. is the first Canadian province to implement the Avalanche Guard, which is widely used in Europe.

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