Published: March 15, 2017
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
Health care and political leaders in Ear Falls were celebrating a major win last week as significant funding for a helipad construction project became available.
In a joint release on March 9 the Township of Ear Falls and the Community Health Centre (CHC) announced $50,000 had been secured for the project that had been under development since 2014.
Later this year the Township will begin construction of a 30 x 30 concrete pad that will give emergency service aircraft a place to land around the clock. CHC Executive Director Wendy Gatrell says the community is currently serviced by ORNGE, the region’s air ambulance service, however hours of operation are limited to daylight hours without a proper landing site.
“Right now we don’t have a regulated site for them to land in. When the need is for ORNGE they have landed in our parking lot and that is not ideal. A stop can be put to that and it is out of our hands. They have landed in the plaza, at the school parking lot, the arena parking lot.”
Gatrell says she first met with municipal councilors in September 2014 on the project and that her organization has since worked with its partners to assess location options and explore funding opportunities.
The project received a major push last week when the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care approved $40,000 from the Ear Falls Family Health Team budget to be directed into the “community need project”. Combined with an additional $10,000 from the Community Health Centre the project is now more than half way to its $90,000 budget target.
Municipal leaders reviewed and approved the location of the helipad adjacent to the Fire Hall at their Regular Council Meeting on Mar. 8. Mayor Kevin Kahoot notes its construction will boost access to health care services for local and regional residents.
“It is going to enhance the ability to provide emergency services locally. We can access ORNGE and don’t have to worry about moving cars out of a parking lot. With EACOM and all these guys out working in the bush and the tourist industry coming back and boats and four wheelers – it is a vital service for the residents and it’s another thing that Ear Falls can say it has now.”
Kahoot confirms construction on the project will begin this spring as fundraising efforts continue to gather an additional $40,000 to complete the project.
Gatrell says she is 100 per cent confident the amount can be fundraised locally.
“It is a very positive thing for our community and when it’s a positive thing and will stay in the community people pull together. We will do it.”