Proposed heliport site to be inspected

Transport Canada representatives are expected to perform a preliminary site inspection here later this month for a proposed heliport for medical transfers.
“We view it as definitely important [to patient care,]” said Wayne Woods, CEO of Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc.
“Right now we have to use the airport to pick up and transfer people, and that’s pretty inconvenient,” he added.
The goal is to build a heliport on or near the riverfront.
“We are seeking to build near the [La Verendrye] hospital location,” said Dan McCormick, health services manager for the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board.
“It would speed up transfers both in and out of the district, and would mean a lot less movement for the patient,” he noted.
McCormick said the project is still in very early stages and is by no means a done deal.
“We’re still in a proposal stage,” he stressed. “We don’t even have a cost analysis.”
Woods said the idea of a heliport next to the hospital has been around for about two years, but only recently did local stakeholders get together to move forward on the project.
Representatives from the local DSSAB, Riverside, the Town of Fort Frances, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Fort Frances Fire and Rescue, Fort Frances Ambulance, Canadian Helicopters, and Abitibi-Consolidated met June 22 and generally were in favour of the heliport.
Once Transport Canada approves a site, the stakeholders will begin looking at cost analysis and exploring available grants.
“I don’t know what the funding mechanism is going to be,” Woods admitted, adding he hoped the federal government would contribute to the project.
It is too early to say for sure how long it will take to get the proper approvals and raise the necessary funds to get the heliport up and running.
“It could take a while or it could happen rather quickly,” Woods said, adding next spring likely would be the earliest possible date.