Ian Tomm
Executive Director

Elevating Adventure

The 2015-16 season was one to remember with good conditions throughout the winter and the continued strengthening of BC's Winter Tourism Economy with winter visitors up over 6% from the previous year.  The helicopter and snowcat skiing sector in BC saw strong growth during the 2015-16 season, just over 20% for the sector as a whole and all reports point to this trend continuing into the 16/17 ski season.

The programs and services of HeliCat Canada continue to grow and adapt to the changing needs of industry.  Our core services of Policy, Programs and Research all saw significant activity last year.  Our core competencies of Government & Public Relations, Conferences/Workshops, Research, Special Projects, Accreditation and Member Service continue to refine and improve.  Our communications network also saw maturing with a web and brand update, expansion of our social-media strategy and the continued growth of our Industry eNewsletter program.

Government Relations

On February 2, 2016 the entire BC Adventure Tourism industry meet with senior BC Government officials to discuss the future of the industry.  Outcomes from that meeting include; (1) focused attention on License of Occupation document language; (2) addressing inconsistencies in regional interpretation of the AT policy and; (3) a new pilot project in the Kootenay's to work with local and provincial stakeholders on a management plan project addressing public recreation and adventure tourism needs, pressures and interests.  In addition to this important tenure focused work, our government relations files on several other fronts including Wildlife & Species at Risk, BC Tourism Policy, Occupational Health and Safety, and Forestry Policy (OLTC) also saw positive progress.  It is clear that the role of HeliCat Canada in representing the community of helicopter and snowcat skiing business in BC is strengthening and evolving.

Research & Special Projects

2015/16 was a year that saw significant projects like our Socio-Economic Impact Analysis and WorkSafeBC/Gougeon Insurance funded Noise Exposure of HeliSki Guides project come to completion, among others.  The changes the organization made to the Research and Special Projects fund in the fall of 2014 continue to have positive impact on the associations ability to produce meaningful direct and in-direct value to the HeliCat industry and broader community.

Continual Improvement

HeliCat Canada and the community of helicopter and snowcat operators in BC continue to be focused on the fundamental value of Continual Improvement.  From our staff and board to Policy, Accreditation and Sustainability Committees and our ad hoc working groups (Helicopter Advisory Committee and OLTC Work Group) this core value of continual improvement permeates all of our activities.  Our twice per year face to face meetings continue to be a vital source of information sharing and best practice discussion, including the presentation of meaningful case histories from our sectors recent past.  

The HeliCat community is stronger today than it has ever been. Thank you for playing your role in making that happen.  I'd especially like to highlight the important and thankless work of the board; Rob Rohn, Chris McNamara, Doug Feely, Beat Steiner, Jeff Honig and Mike Sadan.  In looking to 2017 and beyond I see a bright future for our association and the helicopter and snowcat skiing industry in BC.

It continues to be an honour to support this world leading industry and be your voice and face to the world. All the best for a safe, exciting and adventure filled 2017.  

Ian Tomm
Executive Director


Sector Metrics 


41 BC Operations:
HeliCat Members* vs Non Members

HeliCat Canada
Membership Makeup


Helicopter vs Snowcat
Membership Breakdown


* numbers includes Full and Associate members

Total Annual Skier Days: Helicopter and Snowcat

BC Tourism Numbers



Financial health enables strong service and advocacy for the sector.


2016 Revenues

Member Equity

2016 Expenses

Core staff time allocations



*hours do not include accreditation inspectors, or special project contractors. 


Our industry's philosophy of 'continual improvement' extends to all facets of our organization.


The board and four keystone committees continue to develop how they operate with updated and improved oversight, terms of reference, work plans, and ever-evolving policies and procedures to guide their work.  Together this volunteer team works with staff to fulfill the mandate of HeliCat Canada, optimizing the use of human and financial resources to maximize value to industry.

Policy Committee

Continued oversight and guidance on key policy issues impacting the sector.


Brand Committee

    Revitalized the HeliCat Canada brand including the launch of a refined website.


    Accreditation Committee

    Reformatted standards and procedures to simplify and clarify the accreditation process.


    Sustainability Committee

    Initiation of an upgrade to our Best Practices of Environmental Stewardship and continued oversight of the Mtn. Caribou MOU with the Province of BC.


    Effective communication allows stakeholders, members and the public to be informed of our industry's work and projects.


    Social Media

    The 2016 year and our branding project marked the beginning of a social media implementation plan.  Our presence online grew throughout the season and gave insight to the association's ability to interest the public in our work.


    205 Instagram followers  |  35 posts


    188 Twitter followers  |  36 posts


    101 Facebook likes  |  81 posts



    339 Subscribers

    55 Industry Newsletters & Updates

    25,267 Total Opens

    Each newsletter is opened by readers and subscribers in Canada, the USA and around the world.



    3,787 Audience Size

    14,195 Page Views  |  5,761 Visits

    Our new website launched in September 2015 gave us a dynamic platform to present information about our association, the industry it services, research and special projects and other information relevant to our sector.



    Research into important industry issues expands our collective knowledge and evolves best practices.


    RSP Fund

    The research and special projects fund is a common pool of funds from the membership for the organization to distribute to relevant research and projects.  In 2016, this fund included investment in sustainability projects, wage & benefits data collection, the association website and branding, OH&S resource development, and an upgrade to accreditation standards and procedures.  These marked continued investment in the industry's professionalism and safety.

    WSBC/Gougeon Noise exposure of Heliski guides project

    WorkSafe BC and Gougeon Insurance contributed sponsorship to undertake a project quantifying the noise exposure risks for guides when working in and around helicopters.  This project measured the effect of helmets and various hearing protection on the transmission of noise.  The findings indicated the importance of wearing hearing protection when exposed to helicopter noise and the ability of hearing protection to function when wearing a helmet.

    Imapct Assessment

    The 2016 year involved a project to report on the social and economic impact of the sector on the province of British Columbia.  This report demonstrates the quantitatively measured economic effects of the sector, including the output, GDP and employment alongside the qualitatively reported impact of the sector on the communities in which the sector operates.  The report highlights the importance of the largely export industry impacts for these rural towns.


    A unique industry with unique needs.

    Dedicated to accountability and transparency, HeliCat Canada is a registered lobbying organization under the BC Lobbyists Act.  A summary of key provincial and federal government relations files is included below.



    • Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

      • Wildlife & Species at Risk, BC Wildlife Review (Morris Report)

      • Adventure Tourism Policy

      • ORV Legislation, regulation and land management

      • Rec Sites & Trails & Public Recreation

      • Natural Resource Road Act

      • District Manager meetings

      • Tenure application troubleshooting

    • Ministry of Environment (provincial)

      • BC Parks & Protected Areas

    • Ministry of Transportation

      • Access

      • Emergency Management & Search and Rescue in BC

    • Ministry of Justice

      • BC Coroners Office


    • Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training
      • BC Tourism Policy & Research
    • DestinationBC

    • WorkSafeBC

      • Policy & Prevention

      • Employer & Industry Services

      • Research Services (Noise Exposure of Heliski Guides)

    • Transport Canada & Transportation Safety Board (Federal)

    • Ministry of Environment (Federal)

      • Species at Risk Act


    Continual Improvement, Networking & Communication Highlights



    25th year of operation inspections!

    7 reviews completed with a team of 4 contract reviewers.

    Enhanced reports, improved procedures, continued sharing of information and best practices. 

    Overhaul of the 2014 Operational Guidelines into a new, streamlined Accreditation Program.

    Mtn. CariboU Industry Support Program

    Inclusion of non-member industry operators in Caribou Working Group.

    Collaborative workplan between HeliCat and the BC Government to upgrade the provincial compliance program.

    Continued participation on the provincial Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan Progress Board

    Occupational Health & Safety

    Continued refinement of industry OH&S program templates, risk assessments, safe work procedures, safety talks.

    Focus on snowcat operations with improvements to road risk assessments and management practices for road building, among others.

    Continued analysis of industry OH&S injury statistics, claims and costs to employers.



    Our fall AGM & spring meeting where attended by a sweeping variety of members and non-members, from ski guides and operators to policy makers and non-government stakeholders, and we were encouraged and inspired by the common desire to support the positive growth of our industry.



    Member operations represented


    HeliCat sector based on skier days






    HeliCat continues to work with sponsors to promote the HeliCat industry. This past year we developed out Platinum, Gold, and Silver levels of sponsorship and defined the categories and benefits of sponsorship.  


    Special Projects


    Completed PROJECTS

    WorkSafe BC Noise 

    Brand & Website Update

    Socio-Economic Impact Assessment

    2015 Wage and Benefits Survey


    Sustainability Project

    OH&S Resource Development - Phase 2

    Accreditation Upgrade