By Scott Schmidt
Alberta Newspaper Group
While the focus of residents and governments turn toward the now inevitable spread of COVID-19 and what health officials call “the new norm,” other news and happenings are taking a back seat.
Forty Mile County council held its regular meeting last week — possibly the last for while that won’t be dominated by talk of the pandemic — and welcomed representatives from Capital Power. Council wanted to take the opportunity to promote the work and necessity of the local air rescue service.
Capital Power recently made a $1-million donation to STARS, which will consist of a annual sums of $200,000 for five years, and council wanted to make a case for supporting HALO, which relies on donation far more than its provincial counterpart.
“It had got back to them that we weren’t real happy about that,” Forty Mile Reeve Steve Wikkerink said. “We thought that we should have more support going toward HALO, so the main part of our conversation with them was their reasoning for doing that.
“Our lifeline down here, including where (Capital Power’s Whitla) project is, is HALO, and we were hoping to get some more support from them into our local emergency helicopter service.”
Wikkerink says council understands that Capital Power has projects across the province and therefore an obligation to support the needs of all of Alberta, but members were looking to get a better idea for how charitable donations are divvied up. Capital Power has already begun local community support in other areas beyond HALO, and Wikkerink said council is appreciative of that, but he says STARS already has quite a bit of support from government, while HALO relies on local fundraising efforts.
“A year ago we see the provincial government give STARS however many million at that time, and then just before the federal election, (Ottawa) throws $13 million at STARS because they want to update their fleet,” he said. “When you see that many millions over about six months coming from two levels of government, and we’re down here trying to fundraise every dime to keep HALO in the air, we just thought Capital Power maybe could have come to the front a little bit stronger, but we’ll see what they do coming up.”
Council also spoke with Capital Power about its flashing tower lights, which are necessary to alert air traffic but also bright enough to residents that it is causing some issue. Wikkerink says there is technology available that could keep those lights dim until needed for coming air traffic, then go back down once that traffic has passed.
“I think that would make our community residents happy if (Capital Power) could turn those lights down a little bit,” he said. “They were open to it and we will keep following through on that.”