The City of Selkirk is soaring to new heights in safety and sustainability, partnering with a French company to pilot a helicopter that uses renewable fuel. The city will use the helicopter for a variety of tasks, including tracking everything from parking infractions to lost dogs and transporting the mayor to meetings in other parts of the province.
Saffron Helicopter Inc. began testing an engine that uses 100 per cent sustainable fuel made of cooking oil in 2021. Selkirk is globally recognized as being a city that is on the leading edge of sustainability and was tagged to test the helicopters in real-life situations.
“The city’s commitment to sustainability made us a natural fit for this project,” said CAO Duane Nicol.
“Our Capital Asset Management Program (CAMP) tells us when we can replace gas vehicles with electrics or hybrids to help reduce our carbon footprint; helping in the development of an engine that uses sustainable fuel aligns with our Strategic Plan and helps in our Greenhouse Gas Accountability By-law.”
Traditional helicopters contribute significantly to carbon emissions globally. A 2016 Environmental Protection Agency study revealed that helicopters, not cars, are the biggest source of lead emissions in the U.S. While most cars use unleaded fuel, helicopters do not.
Opportunities are endless
Nicol said there are several opportunities for the helicopter’s use, including aiding by-law enforcement officers in locating at-large dogs and by making use of the chopper to identify cars that have exceeded their time in a parking spot and target drop tickets from above.
Mayor Larry Johannson said it’s exciting to be involved in this leading research. The mayor is a fan of the city’s hybrid and electric vehicles, and he’s looking forward to using the helicopter to travel to meetings.
“I think it’s a great thing, first off we’ll save time taking the helicopter, but we’re also involved in the study of this new engine that uses cooking oil, and it’s better for the environment,” Johannson said.
“One of the best things about it is if you drop your sliced potatoes into the engine in Selkirk, by the time you get to Winnipeg the fries are cooked to a nice golden brown! It’s fantastic!”
Use of the chopper would cause taxes (not to mention eyebrows) to go sky high….but you know that won’t happen because Selkirk has frozen the property tax rate for 2023 so there has been no increase at all. Happy April Fools Day everyone!