November 8, 2022 By Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
The Canadian Coast Guard is building 13 helicopter pads on Haida Gwaii to make it easier and safer for their maintenance staff to do work on navigational aids.
Navigational aids are in place to help boaters navigate and avoid hazards.
They include things such as buoys, lights, fog signals and global positioning system stations.
Previously, without the platforms, helicopters had to hover while maintenance workers got off so they could attend to the aids, Kiri Westnedge, a spokesperson for the coast guard stated on Oct. 31.
“The new helipads allow the helicopter to land, making it much safer for Coast Guard personnel to access these remote aids to navigation and do this vital work,” Westnedge wrote in an email.
As of Oct. 31, construction crews from Victoria and Prince Rupert had completed five landing platforms and were still working on the other eight, Westnedge stated. The finished platforms are located on Straie Island, Kingui Island, Davidson Point, Tasu Sound and Gowgaia Point.
Each site has its own challenges and the helipads have been specifically designed to address them.
For example, at locations where the ground is uneven, it is most cost-effective to build four small foundations and top them with an aluminum pad. At a site that is exposed to a lot of waves, it will be built out of concrete to make it more durable.
While the crews are putting together the new platforms they are also rebuilding 17 navigational aids on the archipelago.
The coast guard cannot provide information about the cost of this project, as it is not complete yet, Westnedge stated.