The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have commenced Operation PALACI, its annual support to Parks Canada’s avalanche control program, which is expected to continue until next April.
Since 1961, the CAF has provided artillery support for avalanche-control programs in Rogers Pass. Working with avalanche control professionals, avalanches are triggered by artillery fire before they become a threat to the Trans-Canada Highway and Canadian Pacific rail transportation corridors. Operation PALACI is carried out by Joint Task Force Pacific (JTFP), headquartered in Esquimalt, B.C.
“Working closely with Parks Canada Agency helps ensure the safety of all Canadians and visitors travelling through Rogers Pass during the winter months,” JTFP Commander Rear-Admiral Bill Truelove said in a statement. “This stretch of highway is also the gateway between Vancouver and the rest of Canada. The impact on our economy would be significant if it were closed for an extended period of time because of avalanche hazards.”
This year, members from 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada based in Valcartier, Quebec, have been tasked to support the world’s largest mobile avalanche control program and will operate and fire a C3 105-mm Howitzer field artillery gun into predetermined high-risk areas to cause controlled avalanches before they become a threat to motorists on the highway.
“Parks Canada is proud of the strong partnership it has with the Canadian Armed Forces and their crucial involvement in our avalanche control program,” said Brenda DeMone, acting superintendent for Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, said in the statement. “For over fifty years we have worked together to keep the Trans-Canada and CP rail transportation corridors open and safe.”