Alberta RCMP officers are strapping on skis and snowboards to patrol the slopes at Lake Louise and Nakiska, two resorts west of Calgary.

The officers, who are in uniform and carrying weapons, are focusing their attention on substance abuse on the chairlifts and gondolas.

"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," said RCMP Cpl. Jeff Campbell, the detachment commander in Lake Louise.

The officers will also be keeping an eye out for possible thefts from the ski racks.

Not all the skiers and boarders in the Powder Keg Lodge at Lake Louise are welcoming the news.

"It makes sense. It sucks, but it makes sense," said one visitor to the hill.

"I would think that more recklessness comes from people coming in and drinking at lunch time and then going back out … Are you going to give somebody a ticket for drinking and then skiing? … It seems like a very slippery slope to me."

"I feel like the chairlift is my time to smoke reefer."  

RCMP made one minor drug seizure of marijuana in December.

Officer training

There used to be a similar patrol in operation 20 years ago in Lake Louise, but it stopped for unknown reasons.

Cpl. Campbell says this program is based on a similar patrol operating at Whistler B.C.

The officers, who volunteer their time, have to go through a certification program and are also trained in first aid.

Two officers will be on patrol Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as holidays including March break and Easter weekend.

RCMP hope to expand the program once they have more officers certified.