Ever wondered what some UNE/PSAC members working at Parks Canada do? Many thanks to Jacolyn Daniluk, UNE Local 20106 Executive Member, for this report on avalanche control efforts in Glacier National Park, and media interest from other countries ...
Throughout the month of February, British Columbia’s Glacier National Park hosted the German film company, "Mineworks", as they documented the avalanche control program for a full-length internet/television documentary for German, French and English audiences. The production will be called "Snow War" and features the organisations impacted by avalanches in the Revelstoke area, including Parks Canada. The production is expected to be released in the winter of 2014/15.
Parks Canada’s avalanche control program is a popular story. Parks Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Armed Forces (CF) under Operation Palaci, has operated the world’s largest mobile avalanche control program in Glacier National Park since 1961. They work to keep the Trans Canada Highway and CP rail transportation corridors open and safe from avalanche hazards during the winter months.
Parks Canada avalanche forecasters and technicians continuously monitor snow, weather and avalanche activity in Glacier in order to determine when and where avalanche control measures are needed. Under Parks Canada direction, Canadian Armed Forces artillery troops stand ready to fire the C3 105-mm Howitzer gun into the deep snowpack from predetermined gun positions along the side of the highway. From these positions controlled avalanches are triggered in specific areas and avalanche hazards are neutralized.
This program garners significant media attention and Glacier National Park staff host numerous international media visits each winter; however, this is the first full-length documentary that they have participated in in many years.
The film shoot took place over several days during a three-week period. Weather dependant, staff and film crew had to be ready at a moment’s notice to take advantage of days when avalanche control was happening and when it was safe to film.
The crew filmed staff performing their regular avalanche control duties such as: observing avalanche activity from the highway, skiing to remote snow study areas high in the mountains, monitoring snow and relaying artillery targets to Canadian Forces. In addition, they filmed Parks Canada plough operators keeping the Trans Canada Highway clear of snow. The film crew was impressed with the high level of professionalism and expertise demonstrated by Parks Canada staff and worked hard to capture this on film. The film crew is expected to return in the summer for some final footage before editing begins.
Thanks to the excellent work of Parks Canada’s avalanche control, visitor safety, highway services and media teams as well as the Canadian Armed Forces, we anticipate that the dedicated effort that keeps the Trans Canada Highway open and safe for winter motorists will be shared with the world.