Column: Investing in our airports and communities

Community and regional airports are vitally important to our rural communities.

Community and regional airports are vitally important to our rural communities. Locally, the Williams Lake Regional Airport serves many important functions. In addition to commercial flights the airport services helicopter, aircraft maintenance, medevac, corporate, and general aviation operations.

I was thrilled to present the airport with $150,000 recently as part of our B.C. Air Access Program, which sees our government cost-share with public airports on development projects. The grant will be used to upgrade storage tank capacity and related infrastructure, to meet changed federal fuel facility regulations — and it’s also important for our local fire suppression efforts.

And that point is timely, given that the BC Wildfire Service regularly battles fires including the recent one southwest of Williams Lake at the junction of Mosley Creek and the Homathko River. With the summer temperatures heating up, it’s a good reminder to everyone to be fire smart and avoid sparking a blaze.

There are steps each of us can take to reduce the risk of a wildfire threatening our homes and livelihoods. The first tip is the most obvious, and the most frustrating when we see it ignored—and that’s to never discard a lit cigarette. Countless wildfires are caused by this type of carelessness. Meanwhile if you’re enjoying a campfire, extinguish it properly and never leave it unattended.

Around the home, remove any debris on your property that could be easily ignited by sparks and embers. If you’ll be doing yard work, ensure your lawn equipment has a working spark arrestor fitted to prevent sparks from exiting through the exhaust pipe. Be careful not to let backyard burning and grass fires get out of control. And never pile firewood against your home, as this is a major fire hazard. Keep it a safe distance away from the people and possessions you hold dear.

Meanwhile, the new Cariboo Fire Centre at the airport continues to take shape. It replaces the old centre and is slated to be completed this fall. Let’s all do our part to keep our wildfire crews’ workloads to a minimum and protect public safety.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

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