Town of Canmore

Heliport Lease Renewal

The heliport was constructed by the Province of Alberta in the mid-1980s. The land is now owned by the Town of Canmore and is leased to Alpine Helicopters. Examples of services provided at the heliport include: landing and fueling services for any helicopter company in the Bow Valley, sightseeing flights, heli-hiking, filming, forest fire suppression, mountain rescue, avalanche control, TransAlta power line inspection, and back country lodge support. The current lease allows a maximum of 60 flights per day to be flown for sightseeing purposes.

The heliport lease term ends November 30, 2021, and Section 403 of the pdf current lease (4.71 MB) between the Town of Canmore and Alpine Helicopters provides an option for renewal that reads “Either the Landlord or the Tenant shall have the option to request an extension of the initial Term for a mutually agreeable period to be no longer than an additional ten (10) years, by providing the opposing party at least eighteen (18) months advance written request prior to the end of the initial Term. In the event of the parties exercising this option, the parties shall enter into an Amending Agreement to reflect the renewal terms.” Alpine Helicopters have submitted their request for a 10-year lease renewal, and so the lease shall be renewed – although with terms such as details and duration to be negotiated. 

Each year, the Town of Canmore’s Heliport Monitoring Committee (HMC) reviews Alpine Helicopter’s operation report to ensure they are operating in accordance with Schedule D of their lease. Schedule D defines the business operations conducted by Alpine Helicopters, including regulations related to commercial and sightseeing operations and emergency services. The committee also reviews any heliport complaints. Council has directed the HMC to meet with stakeholder groups to better understand stakeholder perspectives regarding the lease renewal.

Next Steps 

Due to Covid-19, the timelines for the next steps are currently unknown, but will be updated when we have more information.
  1. February - work with the Heliport Monitoring Committee to finalize stakeholder engagement schedule
  2. March 17 - Alpine Helicopters will be a delegation at the Committee of the Whole
  3. March / April - (TBC) the committee could start meeting with stakeholders
  4. May / June - the committee would consolidate the stakeholder feedback and provide it to administration
  5. September and working through April 2021, Administration will use the stakeholder feedback to conduct lease negotiations
  6. May 2021, Administration returns to Council with recommendations regarding Schedule D of the lease
  7. TBA Council will host a town hall meeting to hear the public's feedback on Schedule D
  8. TBA Administration returns to Council for approval of Schedule D of the lease

This page will be updated as more information and timelines become available.

Current Lease Business Operating Details 

1. Regulations

The heliport shall be operated in accordance with the following regulations and operating protocols:

  1. Town of Canmore Land Use Bylaw Part H, Airport Vicinity Protection Area (AVPA),
  2. Approved Operations Manual filed with Transport Canada
  3. The Canadian Air Regulation (CARS) as administered by Transport Canada
  4. Visual Flight Rules (VFR) utilizing Civil Aviation Airport Certificate 5151-545 as issued by the Minister of Transport. VFR means that aircraft can depart or land one half hour before legal sunrise and one half hour after legal sunset.
  5. Voluntary Flight Guidelines for Kananaskis Country as developed with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) to ensure wildlife in the area is not adversely impacted.

2. Itinerant Helicopter Operations

The Tenant shall permit private helicopters to land at the heliport on a "Prior Permission Required" (PPR) basis. This requirement will be published in the Canadian Flight Supplement which must be carried in all aircraft when they are flying.

3. Alpine Helicopter Operations

The primary helicopter activities to be conducted at the heliport include sightseeing, commercial operations and emergency services. Details of each business area and operating parameters are provided below.

Sightseeing Operations

Sightseeing flights will be operated during the hours of 8:30 am and 5:00 pm only. Three tour flights will be made available, the 12 minute Three Sisters Peaks Tour, the 25 minute Royal Canadian Tour and the 30 minute Mount Assiniboine Glacier Tour. Sightseeing flights will utilize six passenger helicopters when at all possible. A maximum of 60 fl ights per day will be flown for sightseeing purposes.

Commercial Operations

Commercial operations include Parks Canada, Kananaskis Country, Alberta Sustainable Development Branch (Alberta Forestry - ASRD), B.C. Parks backcountry lodge transfers, heli-hiking, photography, filming, and TransAlta inspections. These flights will, whenever possible occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Emergency Services 

Rescues flights will be provided for Parks Canada, B.C. Parks and Kananaskis Country, forest fire operations with ASRD, police work with the RCMP, avalanche control for ski hills and patient transfers for Alberta Health. These flights can occur during any daylight hours and are not pre-scheduled like sightseeing or commercial operations.

4. Flight Departure/ Approach Paths

Normal departure and arrival paths for the heliport for all sightseeing and most commercial operations will follow the flight patterns shown on the map. Deviations from these paths shall be permitted for emergency services operations, conflicting aircraft in the area or weather related issues.

Flight paths will be monitored regularly and revised as development in Canmore progresses to ensure that helicopters avoid flying over built up areas.

5. Fly Neighbourly Program

The Tenant shall follow the principles of the Fly Neighbourly Program as promoted by the Helicopter Association International. Components of this program include:

  1. Fly at an altitude that is as high as practical and is at a minimum of 1,000 ft above built up areas.
  2. Avoid residential areas whenever possible
  3. Fly over industrial areas and major roadways
  4. Use high take-off and descent profiles
  5. Avoid sharp manoeuvres

6. Equipment

The tenant will on an ongoing basis research and implement the use of quieter equipment components where possible.

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