By Justin Sewarcd
Mayors and reeves from across southern Alberta and HALO’s Paul Carolan met via Zoom Monday morning to discuss messaging and a potential proposal for the air ambulance service.
HALO announced in early May that if they don’t get the government funding needed to operate, they will be forced to operate with the single-engine helicopter starting June 1 and could cease operations by July 1.
“Most of the municipalities and most of the mayors got emails to a Zoom meeting on Monday with Paul Carolan from HALO just to go over first of all that we’re all talking the same message as we lobby different MLAs in the government for what HALO is looking for ,” said County of Forty Mile Reeve Steve Wikkerink.
“Then the second part, there is going to be a proposal thrown out for how the municipalities may be involved (in) more of a long-term financial plan for them. That will be flushed out on Monday.”
Wikkerink says the reason why they want to hear what the message is, is that their southern Alberta association representative,RMA’s (Rural Municipalities of Alberta) message that is going to the UCP government is not the same for HALO’s needs.
“This will give Paul a chance and any board members from HALO to talk with us via Zoom and make sure that what they’re really lobbying the government for and we’re lobbying for is the same thing,” he said.
Wikkerink said the consensus from the community is if HALO is forced to go back to the single-engine, that’s really putting all of southern Alberta a step backwards in their health care.
“The range isn’t as far, it’s not as fast. There is just more room in the big engine (HALO 1- BK 117 twin-engine). It’s just going to be a step backwards if we do have to go down to that smaller machine,” said Wikkerink.
“We’ll do our share on behalf of residents to keep HALO in the air. But at the same time what we’ve seen now in the last two-and-a-half weeks, ( the)support coming out of southern Alberta and even other parts of Alberta, has just been overwhelming.”
Carolan could not provide much more detail prior to the meeting other than looking at a “unified message to the province about southern Alberta mayors, reeves ,counties and municipalities for sure.”
“That would be all I am prepared to say at the moment.”