I was horrified to read that Cypress Mountain will be billing a lost snowboarder $10,000 for rescue costs - not withstanding that Cypress says they intend to donate the money to the much-deserving North Shore Rescue. As North Shore Rescue is quick to point out, requiring people to pay for their own rescue will discourage lost individuals from seeking help and will put well-meaning but inexperienced and ill-equipped friends and family at risk.
We need to look at the bigger picture. The costs of search and rescue operations are barely a drop in the bucket compared to the spiralling costs of a sedentary "safe" lifestyle that offers very limited inherent benefits. With sport and outdoor recreation comes a broad spectrum of risk and a broad spectrum of risk tolerance. The costs of the relatively small numbers of serious sport injuries and mishaps in the backcountry, even if foreseeable or resulting from intentional action, is a miniscule price to pay for the huge social, health and environmental benefits (even if measured solely in dollars) of allowing everyone to access, enjoy and appreciate the awe-inspiring natural environment we are lucky to live in.
I am just as happy for my tax dollars to pay for the costs of search and rescue operations, regardless of fault, as I am for my tax dollars to pay for the costs associated with sedentary lifestyles and the myriad of other human activities that result in foreseeable social costs from time to time. Let's worry more about becoming active and engaged citizens than about punishing each other when we make mistakes.
Natasha Reid, North Vancouver