A Coulson B737 Fireliner flies a low pass over the runway at Alberni Valley Regional Airport on May 26 during a media event. Coulson Aviation is turning passenger aircraft into water bombers to fight wildfires. KARLY BLATS PHOTO

Port Alberni pitches wildfire suppression centre

City proposes partnership with FPInnovations, Coulson Aviation to develop centre

The city of Port Alberni approved an application on Monday to the Rural Dividend Program for funding towards the creation of a Wildfire Suppression Centre of Excellence in the Alberni Valley.

The economic development department prepared an application on Monday, Dec. 11 for the fourth, and most likely final, intake of the province’s Rural Dividend Program, which grants funds to help rural communities stabilize their economies and create long-term employment.

A Wildfire Suppression Centre of Excellence would aim to develop solutions to the escalating issues of economic, social and environmental damages caused by interface and wildfires worldwide.

According to economic development manager Pat Deakin, the project would involve the creation of innovative approaches to better protect structures and communities from wildfires in the future. The aim is for Port Alberni as a community to lead the charge to develop models, technologies and equipment in order to better address the changing environment in regards to urban development and climate change.

The city’s economic development office is partnering with FPInnovations and the Coulson Group on the application. FPInnovations is a not-for-profit world leader specializing in technical solutions for forest-based stakeholders, while the Coulson Group has plenty of background work in fighting wildfires.

“It would put us on the map worldwide for our work in wildfire suppression,” said Deakin on Monday. “I think everybody is recognizing the economic, social and environmental damage that’s going on when a wildfire gets out of control.”

The concept would also leverage the community’s investment in the Alberni Valley Regional Airport and would leverage the Coulson Group’s work in this field.

The Rural Dividend Program allows not-for-profit organizations and for-profit entities as partners in a municipality’s application, as long as the application shows the benefits to the municipality and shows that it will not negatively affect other local businesses.

Partners must come up with 40 percent of the project’s budget. There is not a firm budget plan at the moment, but it is expected that FPInnovations will provide the majority of the funds, with the Coulson Group and the city providing smaller amounts. It is proposed that the city will invest $10,000 in funding for the project.

The Centre of Excellence will not necessarily be located at the regional airport, said Deakin. The work will be done mostly using simulators, which will be designed and constructed in the Valley. He is also expecting that there will be a tourism/visitor component to the centre.

Mayor Mike Ruttan pointed out that B.C. alone spent $1 billion on fighting wildfires this year.

“This is an opportunity for us to be seen as the place to go to learn how to provide the solution worldwide,” said Ruttan. “It would be a big bonus for us as a community.”

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

City of Port Alberni ponders future of uptown train station

Developer interest in heritage building prompts discussion on uptown revitalization

Join a food asset mapping focus group in Port Alberni

Learn about food mapping heritage in Port Alberni and Clayoquot Sound

Somass River sockeye fishery estimates cut in half

Local fisheries closed; poor ocean survival a prime suspect

‘Lightning’ hits Sproat Lake for annual regatta

Alberni Valley Regatta Association hosted sixth annual races

Port Alberni track and field athletes excel at BC championships

Pair brings home titles in javelin, hammer throw

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Most Read