Whistler helipad to close for two months 

Search and rescue manager likes upgrades, but wants to see H3 status

Critically ill patients will not be able to land at the health centre's helipad for two months this spring as final upgrades get underway.

The helipad will be closed for six to eight weeks from April to June, as the ski season winds down and before the bike park season really ramps up.

Patients will be sent to the municipal helipad north of Emerald in the interim.

The ultimate goal is to officially become H1 and H2 daytime and nighttime certified by Transport Canada by June.

That's still not enough, said Brad Sills, manager of Whistler Search and Rescue.

"It only goes half way to restoring what we had previously and what we truly need in the town where there is so much trauma," said Sills, explaining that Whistler needs H3 status to allow single engine helicopters to land.

Brett Crawley, project manager for the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, explained to council Tuesday that the upgrades are essential to complete, as the current H1 and H2 certification will expire in June 2011.

While the extensive tree removal portion of the project has already taken place, work still needs to be done primarily on the helipad surface itself. Among other things, it will be resurfaced and a new heating pad installed to deal with snow.

Re-vegetation plans have been developed for the nearby area and work will be done when the spring weather arrives. As well, VCH is looking to control traffic and pedestrians at points and address issues of overhead lighting.

"I applaud the changes," said Sills. "But it's still not enough."

 

Whistler issues friendly wager

 

Council is confident that Whistlerites can rise to the Earth Hour challenge this year and beat their neighbours to the north and south.

"The gauntlet has been dropped," said Mayor Ken Melamed as he made the friendly wager to see which community could reduce its energy the most during Earth Hour 2011.

The challenge is to see a five per cent reduction.

"We ate crow last year," said the mayor. "We're not going to do it again."

Last year Whistler council had to wear I "Heart" Pemberton T-shirts during a meeting for losing to the village in Earth Hour 2010.

This year the winner will host the other two communities in a workshop to talk about ways the corridor can reduce its energy.

Earth Hour will take place on Saturday, March 26 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.

 

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