Officers from Alberta’s RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) are strapping on skis and snowboards and hitting the slopes in order to patrol ski resorts at Lake Louise and Nakiska.
Lake Louise and Nakiska are major ski resorts west of Calgary that draw large numbers of visitors each year.
The new skiing and snowboarding patrols will be volunteering their time, but news sources have made clear that they’ll still be in full-on police mode, uniforms, weapons, and all.
The idea is to establish a police presence throughout the ski resorts and on the slopes to limit the use of drugs and to be sure nothing is stolen from the ski racks.
“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,” RCMP Jeff Campbell, a detachment commander in Lake Louise, told reporters.
A similar ski patrol used to exist in Lake Louise 20 years ago, but it was at some point disbanded.
Under the new program, there will be two officers on patrol on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and a few holidays. Officers who volunteer for the ski and snowboard patrol are being required to complete a certification program and must also be trained in first aid.
While some see the increased security as a welcome development, many aren’t as excited about the decision to revive the previously defunct police program.
“I would think that more recklessness comes from people coming in and drinking at lunch time and then going back out,” said one snowboarder.
“Are you going to give somebody a ticket for drinking and then skiing? It seems like a very slippery slope to me.”
He then added: “I feel like the chairlift is my time to smoke reefer.”
So far, RCMP has made one minor seizure of marijuana, and that was back in December.
Cannabis law is an important ongoing concern in Canada, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues pushing for nation-wide legalization.
In recent months, however, early plans to begin the legislative process were hindered by news that if Canada were to legalize cannabis, it would be in violation of several international treaties stipulating the criminalization of the plant.
Public support for the move toward legalization has also risen steadily over the past few years.
A survey published in August 2015 found that nearly 7-in-10 Canadians think marijuana should be either legalized or decriminalized, while nine percent said the laws should be left as they are.