The Grande Prairie STARS base received a $1.5 million donation from Birchcliff Energy that will allow them to secure a brand new H145 helicopter for their fleet.
Senior Municipal Relations Liaison Glenda Farnden says she’s grateful for the support from Birchcliff Energy over the years.
“Originally, they donated $500,000 to the Alberta-wide initiative. After that, they totally surprised us and went above and beyond to specifically help the Grande Prairie base,” she explains.
“Birchcliff Energy was the very first local area oil and gas company that walked through our doors as soon as we opened the Grande Prairie base back in December of 2006. They also run a charity golf tournament supporting us every year.”
STARS has undertaken a $138 million capital campaign since 2018 to replace the older fleet of helicopters. Each helicopter costs $13 million.
“Most of our helicopters are over 36 years old, so this is really exciting for us. It was awe-inspiring that not only companies, but the federal, local, and provincial government all helped support the campaign,” she says
When the campaign is finished, STARS bases in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg will receive new helicopters. Officials with STARS expect the new fleet to be ready by fall 2022.
“The biggest challenge with the older fleet of helicopters is that they are no longer manufacturing parts and it has become very difficult to find parts in general. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we experienced supply shortages. We felt it was necessary to really push for these new units,” she adds.
The Grande Prairie STARS base is planning a welcoming event in late May to showcase the new H145 helicopter.