It’s a question that is brought up almost every winter.
Should skiers and snowboarders be charged if they go out-of-bounds at resorts, get into trouble, and need to be rescued?
Some resorts in the province are now seriously looking at charging for search and rescues.
Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops has been hit with three separate rescues in the past week for skiers and snowboarders who chose to go out-of-bounds.
“What we’re trying to establish is peoples’ responsibility for their own actions,” says Darcy Alexander, VP at Sun Peaks Resort. “And again my concern is not just for the people who go out there to get them back and get them safe, but my concern is for, for example the other night I believe there was probably in the neighbourhood of 20, 25 people searching for three people.”
Sun Peaks has charged three people for going out-of-bounds who then needed to be rescued. One person paid, but the other two did not and there is no real mechanism for the resort to go after the people for money.
In 2012, Cypress Mountain charged rescued snowboarder Sebastian Boucher $10,000 after he went out-of-bounds. They later dropped the fee after he agreed to do an educational video. He also raised $10,000 for the North Shore Rescue Team who saved his life.
Tim Jones with North Shore Rescue says it’s one thing for private resorts to bill and completely another for volunteer rescue teams to charge. They do not support charging for rescue.
“A very low percentage of people that we actually search and rescue go out-of-bounds,” says Jones. “Maybe one to three per cent. Very low percentage. The other thing to is, and this happened to us this summer where we had people that were from another country, another culture, and they were told if they phoned us they’d be charged. And she took it that we were going to beat her. Right? Because she comes from a police state where that’s what they do.”
Sun Peaks says it has not tallied up the cost of resources it used for the three recent searches. They will decided after the New Year if they will charge the skiers and snowboarders.
Tourism Sun Peaks president Christopher Nicolson told Global News it is up to the search-and-rescue volunteers to decide whether to charge the skiers for the rescue.
– With files from Grace Ke.