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Edmonton police to get new single-engine aircraft

Jan. 5, 2015, Edmonton - Police will likely hover over Edmonton in a new single-engine helicopter instead of the twin-engined model they requested after councillors approved the purchase Tuesday with conditions.


January 5, 2015
By The Edmonton Journal

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Following hours of procedural wrangling, the $3.3-million deal passed 7-6 in what Mayor Don Iveson called “a prudent move.”

“I do support the aerial operations of the Edmonton Police Service.”

The purchase price includes about $1.1 million to trade in Air-2, more valuable than the older Air-1.

Proposals to buy the twin-engined for $7.2 million, or two singles for a total of $7.1 million, were defeated.

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But
before any money is released, police must report back, likely next
year, on where the chopper would be stored and maintained.

They must also look at the available equipment options and issues such as noise.

As
well, Iveson will work with police and the federal government to see if
it’s possible to move the existing fleet to Canadian Forces Base
Edmonton from Villeneuve.

While police indicated last year that
idea won’t fly, Iveson said this conclusion was coloured by their desire
for a heavy twin-engined chopper and a heliport.

“Because of the
police service’s fixation on this giant helicopter, the answers given to
me were not all satisfactory, which is part of what’s behind this.”

Police
are now looking at buying the same AS-350 used by the RCMP so they can
share maintenance, training and space at Edmonton International Airport.

However, the noisy AS-350 might not be the best one to fly over a built-up city, Iveson said.

“If
there’s some efficiencies for maintenance there, I think that’s a great
outcome, but again council just wants to get all those details
confirmed.”

He’ll contact manufacturer Airbus Canada to find out
if any suitable, quieter models will be available in a few years when a
second helicopter is needed.

Although Iveson doubts the decision
to buy a new helicopter will be overturned, Coun. Andrew Knack is
hopeful the project can still be defeated.

“It’s a compromise for those councillors who wanted to support it, but didn’t want to spend as much,” he said.

“Unfortunately, you won’t be able to fly as much as we would like.”

Other additions to the city’s capital budget include:

$3.8
million to design the Winspear Centre expansion. The centre intends to
spend $52 million, with $13 million from the city, building a
performance hall, multipurpose rooms, automated parking garage and
daycare on its 97th Street parking lot.

$12 million toward the $40-million Telus World of Science expansion.

The Aurora Initiative will feature an upgraded Zeidler Star Theatre, new galleries and an Early Childhood Education Centre.

$5.1
million to add a daycare, credit union and café to the new Westwood
transit garage, subject to a report with more details coming in April.

Councillors
defeated an attempt to downgrade the complete overhaul of the Stanley
A. Milner Library that will start in 2016 to more modest repairs.


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