I am deeply thankful that I live in a community that has skilled mountain rescue pilots and a number of machines in close proximity with the technical power to respond immediately to people in trouble in the mountains and in the event of a disaster, such as wildfire.
Having this service is going to be especially important in the years to come, as increased and aggressive fire behaviour is only anticipated to ramp up with climate change.
The only way a company like Alpine Helicopters can offer life-saving services to us, our guests, and to the many tourists who visit our region (and keep a high majority of locals employed), is because they have a viable tourism component to their operation. Proximity is key to lives and property being saved.
There is an aggressive and largely misinformed campaign being conducted by a small group of people in Canmore because they chose to move to areas where known flight paths were and they don’t like the noise.
Their argument is as ridiculous as me moving behind a train track and then lobbying to have the rail company relocate, or moving near the Trans-Canada Highway and then claiming that the increased traffic due to tourism in the area is an infringement on my rights, therefore the highway should be relocated or the traffic due to tourism be decreased to the level it was when I came.
The pros and cons of having a service in the community should be carefully considered.
The public safety component is only one aspect. The company is also an employer of numerous young people – especially throughout the summer, have supported numerous local charities, and I can’t even imagine the economic advantages brought to the community because of the services they provide to numerous industries.
But most importantly, having these services is essential to disaster preparedness. When an emergency call comes in and someone is on death’s door, and STARS can’t access the terrain because they don’t have the right kind of machine or the pilot training – or just can’t get here fast enough – an Alpine rescue pilot is moments away, on stand by – seven days a week, 365 days a week from dusk until dawn. W
hen the fires come (which is not “if” but “when"), we will all be extra thankful for the expertise and technical capabilities in our community. Proximity matters. Lives matter, property matters, and our economy matters.
Attacking a viable company that provides an exceptional service to our community is not in the spirit of community at all.
Laura Shay Lynes,