Stash the reefer, dudes, it’s the RCMP ski patrol!

Steve Mertl
Daily BrewFebruary 12, 2013
Environnement - Des policiers patrouilleront les pentes enneigées de Lake Louise et Nakiska
Des membres de la Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC) effectueront des patrouilles régulières dans les descentes des centres de villégiature Lake Louise et Nakiska, à l'ouest de Calgary

Canadian Ski Patrol volunteers work on more than 200 ski hills in the country, rescuing injured skiers and helping prevent accidents through safety awareness.

But policing potentially illegal behaviour on the slopes is outside their mandate, which has prompted the RCMP in Alberta revive its own ski patrol.

Volunteer officers, uniformed and armed, are patrolling the slopes at Lake Louise and Nakiska, west of Calgary, CBC News reports.

"It's going to deter people from bringing narcotics or have that second look of doing something on the ski hill because they know there is going to be a police presence," Lake Louise detachment commander Cpl. Jeff Campbell told CBC News.

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The officers will also be keeping an eye peeled for thieves raiding ski racks at the resorts.

Lake Louise had a similar police patrol 20 years ago but it fizzled out with personnel changes. The new program is modelled on a similar one at Whistler, B.C., north of Vancouver.

Officers who volunteer for the duty will have to undergo a certification program and be trained in first aid. They'll be patrolling on weekends, during March break and the Easter holiday, expanding the program once more officers are certified, CBC News said.

The patrols were launched in December, the Canmore Leader reported.

“One of the common complaints [the ski hill] gets from visitors is people using narcotics in the gondola and the use of alcohol on the lifts, and general complaints of reckless skiers,” Campbell told the Leader.

“We do regular foot patrols up at the ski hill for anti-theft patrols at the ski racks, but this is something more.”

Campbell said patrolling Mounties have already made one drug seizure at Lake Louise and the incidence of reported drug use appears down since the program was launched.

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The resort's business development director said crime is not an issue, but welcomed the patrols.

“They’re our local cops and it’s good to see them on our local mountain,” Sandy Best told Metro Calgary. “I like them being here and I hope they never have to work.”

But not everyone is crazy about the idea.

"It makes sense. It sucks, but it makes sense," said one Lake Louise skier.

"I would think that more recklessness comes from people coming in and drinking at lunch time and then going back out … Are you going to give somebody a ticket for drinking and then skiing? … It seems like a very slippery slope to me.

"I feel like the chairlift is my time to smoke reefer."

Campbell told Metro the patrol's main focus is more public education than busting people.

"The numbers at Lake Louise indicate, on a busy day, they can get up to 7,000 people there," he said. "It's like having a small town so it's nice to have that presence while up there."