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

Mount Washington opening for winter season this weekend

The resort’s original opening day was delayed due to lack of snow

New wind warning for most of Vancouver Island

Forecasters are calling for strong winds up to 90km/h for some areas

Alberni Valley Bulldogs ready for Team Kazakhstan visit

Game will be ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity for some Bulldogs’ players

Baby, it’s nasty outside: wind and rain will continue across Vancouver Island

Police warn drivers and pedestrians to use precaution during expected rain and winds

Donation helps North Island College trades students

NIC receives $38,000 equipment donation from Seymour Pacific Developments Ltd

Tommy Chong says Canada took wrong approach to pot legalization

He also talked about the likelihood of another Cheech and Chong film

Questions raised over retailers who shame shoplifters with photos

Alleged theft from a sex shop in Newfoundland led to posts on social media

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Fashion Fridays: How to change your beauty routine

Kim XO, lets you in on her style secrets each Fashion Friday on the Black Press Media Network

‘Both things are true:’ Science, Indigenous wisdom seek common ground

Reconciliation between Canada and First Nations is playing out not only in legislatures and courtrooms but in labs across the country

B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

Broughton Archipelago plan set to start in spring of 2019

Most Read