RADIA: Take the risk and pay the price

FACE TO FACE: Should out-of-bounds skiers and boarders pay for their rescue?

Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

Growing up, I was taught that when you do something wrong, you have to suffer the consequences. If you spill something, you clean it up. If you cheat on a test, you get a zero. And if you get caught jaywalking or speeding in your car, you pay a fine.

That’s the way the world should be: do the crime, do the time.

Unfortunately, to the chagrin of many, those who break the rules — skiers and snowboarders who go out of bounds into remote areas and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars for dangerous rescue efforts — face no consequences at all. In fact, it seems, they get off scot-free.

Every year, we hear a score of stories about a daring but perhaps not-so-bright snowboarder, skier or a hiker going into remote areas and eliciting a full-scale search. The costs of the rescue are often borne by municipal and provincial governments. It has been reported that a 12-hour search can cost between $1,500 and $2,000. If a helicopter is called in, the cost can skyrocket to about a $1,000 per hour.

Rescue groups around the Lower Mainland — such as our very own Coquitlam Search and Rescue — argue that imposing fines could result in people evading rescue and not calling authorities for help.

I know that this might sound harsh but that’s the choice of the lost individual.

I would think meaningful fines would serve as a deterrent for individuals who consciously make bad decisions about going into remote areas.

Besides, it shouldn’t be the rescue organization’s call on where their funding comes from — it should be the taxpayers’ decision.

Certainly, we also have to put the onus on the operators of ski hills to ensure there are clear postings about out-of-bounds areas.

There should also be visible warning made to skiers and snowboarders that they will be responsible for the cost of their rescue if they go out of bounds.

Simply put, if you break the rules and/or partake in risky activities in remote areas, man-up and pay your own rescue bills.

It’s called being responsible.

Andy Radia is a Coquitlam resident and political columnist who writes for Yahoo! Canada News and Vancouver View Magazine. He has been politically active in the Tri-Cities, having been involved with election campaigns at all three levels of government, including running for Coquitlam city council in 2005.


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