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Namao likely a no-go for medevac flights

The military has waved off the notion of using runways at the Edmonton Garrison for provincial medevac flights.

The military has waved off the notion of using runways at the Edmonton Garrison for provincial medevac flights.

Local MLA and deputy premier Doug Horner floated the idea earlier this year, but he said Tuesday it seems unlikely the military will be able to accommodate the flights.

“The indication that I have from the military is that it is not likely they are going to be in a position to do this,” he said. “No final decision, but the indications are they are not interested in moving forward.”

Two very large runways remain at the Edmonton Garrison, but when the base closed to planes in the early ’90s they were converted to other uses.

Several buildings have been built near the runways and parts of the facilities are now used for vehicle storage and for a firing range.

Emile Faucher, a spokesperson for the military, said the analysis is still ongoing and the final decision will be announced to the province first.

“Our analysis is still ongoing and it is our intent to communicate our findings to the provincial government once we have come to a final conclusion,” he wrote in an email.

The province has to find a new home for medevac flights because of the closure of the Edmonton city centre airport. The flights are generally for non-emergency patients coming in from northern Alberta. Emergency cases come through STARS helicopters, which have already moved to the international airport.

Ruling out the garrison likely means the province will have to focus on the Villeneuve airport in Sturgeon County.

“At the end of the day, Villeneuve is the most likely response for us and then we will look at what we have to do with Villeneuve,” said Horner.

The base’s runways were among the largest in the world when they were built. The facility is also close to the Anthony Henday and Horner said both of those were factors that made the province want to consider it for the flights.

Horner said it was always the military’s decision to make and he respects that they can’t accommodate the flights.

“I made it very, very clear that the army would be the ones making the decision.”

Horner said the province would now look at what might be needed to use Villeneuve for the flights. He said some of that work has already been done and it will include runway extensions and the installation of an instrument landing system.

If Villeneuve is used, Horner said the province would likely have to consider upgrades to the Sturgeon hospital to handle the increased patient load, as well as possible upgrades to Highway 633.

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