Alberni backs bomber talks at UBCM

A meeting between Alberni and B.C. Forest Ministry at the UBCM in Vancouver about the Martin Mars water bomber has been called.

An emergency meeting has been set up between Port Alberni and B.C. Forest Ministry representatives at the Union of BC Municipalities meeting in Vancouver in an effort to renew the Martin Mars water bomber contract.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources decided against renewing the water bomber contract with its owner, The Coulson Group in May. Ministry officials have said in the past that they don’t find it feasible to use an aircraft that is aging and is the last of its kind in operation, even though it is arguably the largest water carrying aircraft in the world.

Mayor John Douglas said the city wants the ministry to reverse its decision.

“The capacity of the Mars bomber is twice the capacity of any water bomber in B.C.,” Douglas said, while on his way to the meeting in downtown Vancouver.

“There has been no real, rational explanation as to why they don’t want to use the water bomber.”

Douglas said the the Mars bomber crew is experienced with fighting fires and it would be a waste to see that disappear. He also said the bomber is a tourist attraction and is valued in the community.

Douglas added that if the meeting with ministry staff fails, an emergency resolution to save the water bomber will be drawn up during the Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference, which is occurring in Vancouver this week. This resolution would have the support of every municipality in the province.

The meeting was set to take place at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, which is after press time.