The Town of Canmore released a draft of a portion of the new contract with Alpine Helicopters Inc. known as Schedule C that deals with the company’s responsibilities to the community. The old contract expires on Nov. 30, 2021 and the Town is holding a public Zoom meeting on Tuesday, May 4 at 6 p.m.
At first glance, it appears the changes in this contract are steps in the right direction and address the concerns raised by the invited stakeholders that reported to the Heliport Monitoring Committee. This committee was charged with co-operation of Town administration to consolidate the input and formulate the content of the new contract to replace the public consultation the Town announced in August 2019. The outcome is recommendations that are more smoke and mirrors than meaningful improvements – not surprising after this non-transparent and selective consultation process, in addition to Alpine Helicopters having a seat on the committee, rather than reporting to it.
While it is true allowable daily sightseeing flights will go from 60 to 45 is a 25 per cent reduction, in reality, it is a negligible change. Rick Carswell of Alpine Helicopters claimed in 2018 there were only four days when they exceeded 50 flights in a day with a peak number of 54. It is clear Alpine Helicopters is able to operate its business in the future at almost the same intensity as it did in the boom year of 2018.
Similarly, the references regarding a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and improvements in air quality read more like wishful thinking than holding the company to task with demonstrable methods and measurable outcomes. With an unreduced number of flights, it is unlikely to achieve a significant change in the carbon footprint.
While Schedule C does not include the length of the new contract, it appears that another 10-year term is being considered. This term is too long for a heliport surrounded by residential areas at the best of times, but particularly with the difficulties in the public process during COVID-19.
If you would like to see meaningful changes of the tourist operations at the Canmore Heliport please join the Zoom meeting on the Town's website by searching “heliport lease."