Helipad emergency landing area to be finished this week 

RCMP working on traffic management plan

Those trees are coming down.

Vancouver Coastal Health will have finished most of the tree removal between Lot 4 and Lorimer Road by the time this issue hits newsstands. All chipping and grinding of the wood will be completed by week's end.

VCH's contractor, Clifftop Contracting LTD., began barricade placement and tree removal on Tuesday and carried on through the week. Once this work is complete for the emergency landing area, H2 helicopter landing status - which VCH has been working toward for over a month - will likely be granted.

"It's my understanding that once the steps are complete, that's when Transport Canada will give the green light," said Joe Paul, manager of development services for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

He said that VCH's re-vegetation plan for the area has not yet been submitted, as the municipality requested prior to VCH cutting down the trees. The health authority has assured municipal staff that the re-vegetation will be done. Both parties are in "deep, deep" discussions on when that work will be completed and what it will look like.

"They're going to do it. They're all in agreement as to what the elements should be," Paul said.

Staff from the planning department did not respond to interview requests by deadline about what the re-vegetation plan could look like.

When Transport Canada assessed the helipad last December, they stated that a traffic management plan must be out in place to close the intersection at Blackcomb Way and Lorimer when helicopters are arriving.

Currently, the RCMP are undertaking that task until VCH can train Whistler Health Centre's in-house staff to do it themselves.

Paul said the third phase of this process will be to install some permanent infrastructure at the intersection - some lights or a moving barricade - but that will have to be integrated with the upcoming reconstruction of Blackcomb Way out front of Celebration Plaza.

"We're waiting for them and their consultants to propose to us what those permanent infrastructure elements might be, but we don't expect to see that until well into the new year," Paul said. "But until then they've got an acceptable solution in place."



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