Brent Bidston is the president of Angel Flight East Kootenay. Black Press file photo.

RDEK ponders funding for Angel Flight East Kootenay

The district is considering funding for operations or to eventually help acquire a larger plane

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is considering providing ongoing funding to Angel Flight East Kootenay to the tune of up to $100,000 per year for five years.

Under the draft five-year financial plan, the district is considering what level of support – if any – it can give the organization, with options ranging from a grant of $25,000 per year to support its ongoing operations, to $100,000 per year over five years to help Angel Flight eventually acquire a larger plane that could be equipped with de-icing capabilities, and a pressurized cabin.

Angel Flight East Kootenay organizes free flights for those in the East Kootenay that require medical attention in Kelowna.

“A committed grant of $100,000 per year for five years, would provide those operating funds as well as enough to repay a loan financing the purchase of a $400,000 plane,” reads the RDEK report.

Currently, flights with Angel Flight are done using smaller, unpressurized planes which limits the scope of patients that can be transported, and the weather conditions that allow the not-for-profit to operate.

In a letter to the RDEK, Angel Flight explained that “the main advantage is the increased reliability of our service, people wait a long time for an appointment and if they have to reschedule they may have to wait many weeks to get another. With an icing equipped aircraft we would be able to fly in most weather conditions.”

The five-year financial plan – including the option of providing Angel Flight East Kootenay with grants to support operations and expansion – is currently open for public comment on the RDEK website, with the comment deadline closing at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, March 1.

The draft financial plan will be discussed and voted on at the next RDEK meeting, on March 5.

Since it was founded in 2019, Angel Flight East Kootenay has provided flights for 109 people in need of medical care in Kelowna. The average cost of a return flight is $725.

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