Helipad now expected to open next month 

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The opening of the Whistler Health Care Centre (WHCC) helipad has been delayed again because a key part required for the snow and ice melting system hasn't arrived. The helipad had been expected to be ready before Christmas.

Brent Alley, executive director of Capital Projects with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), said the key part required for the heating system was rush ordered. Trudi Beutel, a public relations officer with VCH, said this week that the part, a large circuitry box will be installed starting Jan. 27.

"Installing the circuitry box along with additional mechanical and electrical will require two additional weeks of work, resulting in a tentative Transport Canada re-inspection date during the week of Feb. 6," Beutel said.

An inspector from Transport Canada visited the helipad on Dec. 15. According to Alley, the contractor working on the project knew it wouldn't be completed in time but the inspection went ahead so the contractor could get more information.

Beutel said VCH is committed to getting the project completed as soon as possible.

The delays prompted VCH to review the execution of the project. The review will examine the roles and responsibilities of hired consultants and designers.

"The WHCC project has been more complicated than most, involving meeting the design and public safety standards required by two levels of government," said Beutel. "The fact that the helipad is also located in a high vehicular and pedestrian traffic area has complicated matters further and slowed down the progression of work."

Through the holiday period, the municipal heliport was used to facilitate all medical transfers. According to statistics from Blackcomb Aviation, the municipal heliport was used 13 times for medical transfers involving helicopters and ambulances between Dec. 15, 2011 and Jan. 15.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler requires a development permit for landscaping work related to the helipad project. Vegetation removed from around the helipad and the parking areas, as part of the work will have to be replaced.

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