Local elected officials and representatives of search and rescue teams and the Columbia Basin Trust attended the opening of the new emergency services building at the Creston Valley Airport on Dec. 2.

Local elected officials and representatives of search and rescue teams and the Columbia Basin Trust attended the opening of the new emergency services building at the Creston Valley Airport on Dec. 2.

Creston Valley emergency services building now open

Web Lead

  • Dec. 12, 2011 6:00 a.m.

There were smiles all around the Creston Valley Airport on Dec. 2 as volunteers, elected officials and Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) representatives arrived to celebrate the opening of a new emergency services building.

Neil Muth, CEO of CBT, said that the trust’s $100,000 contribution towards the construction project was the result of a team approach to providing emergency services in the area.

“Thanks go to all the volunteers who are involved in this project,” he told a crowd of about 40 people. “Their collaboration has resulted in this building. It is a prime example of how the different agencies, along with the Regional District of Central Kootenay and Town of Creston, work together.”

Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks was on hand to share in the celebration.

“This building provides a fixed base of operations for a number of emergency services,” he said, before presenting airport society president Fred Jones with a Canadian flag to fly over the building. “Working together to get things done is something that we in the Kootenays have become accustomed to.”

“This project really shows the importance of the Columbia Basin Trust to this area of the province,” Area B director John Kettle said. “We would all be standing here in a mud puddle if it wasn’t for the CBT.

“In the last nine years the CBT has put $350,000 into Area B in the form of community initiative grants. That’s a lot of money and it helps fill voids in our communities.

“Now the trust has helped us take another step forward by providing a facility for air and ground search and rescue volunteers, the Creston Valley Airport Society and the B.C. Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) to work out of,” he said, adding that the airport society’s volunteer efforts have doubled the number of emergency medical flights in and out of the Creston Valley.”

The airport society manages the airport under contract to the Town of Creston, which owns the property.

“The members of our society average more than 100 hours a year of volunteer service,” Jones said. By keeping the runway clear of snow 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said that the Creston Valley Airport is becoming a favourite for air ambulance pilots, who know they can count on a clear runway at an airport that is rarely socked in by clouds, a problem that several other Kootenay airports struggle with.

The new building includes a waiting room and washroom with a shower for the use of air ambulance pilots, who often have a wait of several hours while patients are transported to the airport from Creston and other communities in the area.

“In the past, we’ve actually been aware of some pilots having to start their plane engines to stay warm in cold winter weather,” airport society secretary/treasurer Mary Angus said.

Robert McLean, deputy zone commander for PEP Air (a member of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association), sent a message from Thailand, where he and his wife are holidaying:

“On behalf of the volunteers of Creston air search and rescue, I would like to thank all involved in setting up this wonderful facility and for including search and rescue groups in your plan.

“This facility has already been used for the evaluation of the Southeast Zone of PEP Air CASARA and 442 Comox. I am pleased to say that we have met all requirements and are operational and ready to meet the call if needed. The evaluation team from PEP Air CASARA and Canadian Forces 442 representatives remarked that they were very impressed with the facility. They also said that it will be a true asset to the SAR system in the province, both as a search headquarters and training area.”