Winnipeg Flies Plan to Relocate Heliport to Make Way for Bus Rapid Transit

Winnipeg Flies Plan to Relocate Heliport to Make Way for Bus Rapid Transit

Ken Nawolsky
Ken Nawolsky, superintendent of insect control, at the City of Winnipeg’s heliport on Grey Street, Monday, May 1, 2017. (CHRISD.CA FILE)

WINNIPEG — The city is mulling over the idea of relocating its heliport, used by the Insect Control Branch, to make way for the future expansion of bus rapid transit, ChrisD.ca has learned.

The heliport on Grey Street currently serves as the launching pad for the City of Winnipeg‘s airborne mosquito larviciding operations. Winnipeg police and STARS air ambulance also occasionally use the site.

As part of the project, the city is looking to merge its Insect Control Branch facility at 1539 Waverley Street to the proposed 10-acre project site just south of the Perimeter Highway on the western edge of the South End Water Pollution Control Centre.

The project also calls for construction of a 7,500-square-foot aircraft hanger designed to store four helicopters, with four helipads. The current Grey Street site has two helipads. A 16,000-square-foot operations building will house office and meeting space, three maintenance garage bays and washrooms, change rooms and shower facilities for ICB personnel. It would also involve an attached cold storage, and a warehouse for pesticide storage.

Mosquito Heliport Relocation
The proposed site for the City of Winnipeg’s heliport relocation project, south of the Perimeter Highway. (GOOGLE MAPS)

Parks Capital Projects Manager, Jason Bell, tells ChrisD.ca the Insect Control Branch has been using the Grey Street site for nearly 100 years and its buildings are nearing the end of their life cycle. Between that site and the Waverley location, the city says both offices are no longer able to effectively house the increased staff load.

During peak season, approximately 185 staff work in the ICB, with approximately 25 percent of those staff performing technical work in the laboratory on Waverley Street, or in the field performing surveillance. The city says the relocation would increase the efficiency of the overall work unit.

Winnipeg Heliport
An aerial view of the City of Winnipeg’s existing heliport on Grey Street. (GOOGLE MAPS)

A report (PDF) prepared by consultant firm KGS Group says the project could be reviewed later this year for funding consideration. A final design could be completed in 2019, with construction expected to take 18 months beginning in 2020.

The site was chosen as it is already owned by the city and would meet the criteria set out by NavCanada to operate the helicopters used in the ICB program.

Final design and construction funding have yet to be identified, nor have associated costs been tallied to carry out the project. Bell says the project hasn’t been listed in the city’s five-year capital budget forecast yet.

A posting on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s (CEAA) website welcomes public comment on the proposal. That feedback will eventually be used to prepare the capital cost estimate for city council to consider.

The CEAA is currently deciding whether a federal environmental assessment is required for the heliport relocation project. The province’s Sustainable Development Branch is also reviewing the project’s plans.

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