A group of Haliburton Lake property owners say there is a need for an air ambulance helipad.

And they’ve again lobbied Dysart township council to allow them to put one on a piece of the old roadside pit on Haliburton Lake Road that has been turned into a waste material dumping ground.

Dysart council agreed to have staff report back on the feasibility of the emergency helicopter landing site.

Dave Freeman, the past-president of the Haliburton Lake Cottagers Association and the group’s special projects roads liaison, said the group would leave the currently travelled portion of the pit as it is, allowing access to the small pit.

Freeman outlined the association’s reasons for the air ambulance helipad in a letter to council and he attended its June 13 meeting.

He made the same proposal in 2015 to use municipally-owned land at 5177 Haliburton Lake Road for an Ornge heli-ambulance landing site.

He said there’s a gravel pit owned by Dysart in Fort Irwin that’s currently being used as a dump site for materials by the municipality.

The closure of the Minden Hills emergency department could put a strain on the resources of the Haliburton County Paramedic Services, he said.

“The timing for an ambulance to get from Haliburton or, worse case scenario, Minden or Tory Hill is pretty astronomical,” Freeman said. “When you consider the new development on the far side of Percy and Haliburton lakes, you’re looking at well over an hour to get to the further reaches.”

Fort Irwin is about 20 minutes from Haliburton and is a hub to Haliburton Lake, Ross Lake, Oblong Lake, North Lake and Percy Lake. It covers a large portion of Harburn Township, accessible only from the south and west by County Roads 14 and 19, but cut off to the north and east by Haliburton Forest and Algonquin Provincial Park.

Haliburton Lake has about 570 vacation and residential properties. Percy Lake has about 250 vacation properties and currently takes about 40 minutes additional travel time from Fort Irwin to reach the new cottage lots in the Grief Development.

Harburn Township hosts many different elements of activity that increases the possibility of serious injury occurring or worse. Two of the major provincial snowmobile trails lead into Haliburton County from the east, one at the top of Haliburton Lake and another on Peterson Colonization Road.

North Lake is the beginning of the Pearson International Airport holding pattern for all in-bound European flights to wait out any issues in Toronto.

There are hunting camps, tourism operations, summer camps for children in the area.

“Access beyond the township roads from this area can only be done with off-road vehicles, delaying timely attendance of the emergency services which could be reduced if an air ambulance could be waiting at a central location once the extraction commences,” Freeman wrote in a letter to council.

In recent history there have been instances that poignantly illustrate the need for air ambulance access. One was a highway motor vehicle mishaps and another was somebody suffering a heart attack. Freeman said the Ornge helicopter couldn’t land.

“That was based on the fire department running all over the Haliburton Lake environs, trying to find somewhere open enough for the helicopter to land,” he said. “And it was to no avail.

“There’s nowhere out there right now for the helicopter to land.”

Freeman said both the Haliburton County Paramedic Services and Ornge are n board with the plan, if it’s approved by the municipality. Basically, all the association needs from the town is minimal funding to help pay for grass cutting and snowclearing at the site.

Mayor Murray Fearrey asked if there was a lot of remedial work to do at the site.

Freeman said there’s about 100 loads of ditching material that’s been dumped in the pit. The plan was to level that dumped material for use as the landing pad base and to bring it above the lake’s water level.

“It’s a common-sense idea, I think,” Fearrey said.

Rob Camelon, Dysart’s public works director, said there’s still come life left in the pit.

“But the area that is still active, I’ll say, is covered in trees,” Camelon said. “The front end, more or less, is exhausted but it’s still an active pit.”

Camelon said he’s reached out to the provincial government for its input.

“They will have an interest in this as well,” he said. “Although they may not have jurisdiction on it, they’re going to have some say as to where it goes as far as the rehabilitation goes.

“But I don’t think there’s anything that’s really going to hold this up, initially anyway.”

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By James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 21, 2023 at 07:44

This item reprinted with permission from   Haliburton County Echo   Haliburton, Ontario
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