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If you take the risk, you should pay for that risk

The lure of fresh powder the past few weeks on the South Coast has been very appealing to skiers.

The lure of fresh powder the past few weeks on the South Coast has been very appealing to skiers. But that appeal has turned tragic, prompting the provincial government to look at a law to fine skiers and snowboarders who go out of bounds and into backcountry areas, putting themselves at risk.

Two skiers were killed in Whistler when they were caught in avalanches, while four skiers were banned indefinitely from Grouse Mountain after rescue crews were called out when the skiers chose to go out of bounds. After they were rescued and debriefed by Grouse staff and police, they were handed a bill for the rescue - only the second time the mountain has ever taken such extreme action. But extreme situations calls for extreme measures, and it's high time our winter resorts and the government cracks down on these offenders.

Skiers and boarders going out of bounds and having to be rescued is nothing new - it happens every winter. But the extreme weather has put several areas at high risk for avalanches, prompting ski hills to close off areas that might otherwise be open. Still, common sense seems to be lacking as skiers and boarders flagrantly flaunt the rules and continue to venture out of bounds, despite warnings.

B.C. Solicitor-General John van Dongen will be looking into whether there is a way to impose a fine or penalty when people knowingly go out of bounds, but van Dongen is also quick to point out that the new law, if developed and passed through government, would not include regulations that would bill the rescue costs to skiers.

That fact comes as some comfort to North Shore Search and Rescue who have gone on record this week through Lower Mainland media outlets as saying they are against billing skiers for their rescue. Search team leader Tim Jones said it might keep people from calling for help when they get into trouble, ultimately causing more harm than good.

Clearly something needs to be done. Skiers and boarders have to respect the laws of the ski resorts and ski in approved areas. If you knowingly break the rules and put yourself and those tasked with rescuing you at risk, then you should be held accountable for your actions.