In June 2010 all operations at the helipad at the Invermere and District Hospital ceased. Transport Canada had issued a Notice of Suspension after noting several deficiencies with the helipad during an inspection.
However, it appears there may be hope yet for the helipad to upgrade and become operational again.
Interior Health (IH) commissioned a consulting firm to study and provide cost estimates for the remedial actions that would need to be taken to upgrade the helipad. The recommendations are to move the location of the heliport further east. This would provide the necessary clearance of the oxygen tanks, as well as allow the expansion of the size of the heliport, which was an addressed issue among the several concerns brought up by Transport Canada.
IH has issued a letter of request to the Ministry of Health Services to gain permission to use the surplus funds from the Invermere Hospital Redevelopment and Emergency Department project to make these upgrades.
The redevelopment project is expected to be closed out shortly under-budget with savings in excess of $300,000.
IH has stated that, according to the consultant’s report, this surplus will be sufficient to address the deficiencies and allow Transport Canada to re-certify the heliport, making it operational once more.
Among the deficiencies leading to the closure of the helipad last year are flight path obstacles, non-compliance or ground slope regulations and above-ground oxygen tanks that are located too close to the heliport. Minor shortcomings related to markings, signage and fencing were also noted.
District of Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft said that this letter was good news.
“Originally it seemed that IH was not supportive of taking this approach, but it seems as though they have been convinced of the need of the project, and it also seems that there is a level of support from the Ministry of Health to see this request come from IH,” said Taft.
“I feel that this approach and the apparent support within the Ministry of Health, brings us much closer to having the upgrades to the helipad become a reality, and it really is good news.”