To be clear, I like helicopters. My son uses them in his work with for the Royal Canadian Air Force in their search and rescue service, but I think helicopters belong in the mountains for specific purposes such as emergency rescue and not for mass tourism.
Canmore’s Town council has directed a process designed to lease valuable Town land to one company: Alpine Helicopters Inc. This lease will permit them to continue their private tourism operations to the detriment of the environment and many residents.
It is a tough problem for council. There are positive aspects related to emergency rescues and there are apparently unconfirmed benefits to the Town from tourists who come for a sightseeing flight. On the other hand, some people believe it is appropriate to have a noisy, polluting industrial use such as an heliport in the middle of our town. And for some residents, hikers, and tourists, it is unacceptable tourist helicopters are disrupting their enjoyment of our town.
The update to council at the committee of the whole meeting showed a lease to a sole-sourced company. The arrangement permits the company to carry out more than 32,000 helicopter take-offs and landings per year. That is close to 100,000 sightseeing tourists per year who could take helicopter tours from Canmore. There is no data that demonstrates these tourists spend any money while they are in town. Their only known contribution is more CO2 from their helicopter tours.
The proposed lease does not insist on reductions to carbon dioxide emissions and demand reductions in noise so affected residents can again enjoy living in Canmore. The current lease does lease public land for a great price to one lucky tourist company for a very long time. This is not sustainable tourism.