A skydiver lands at Willows Beach during the air show at the 55th Oak Bay Tea Party in June. (Morgan Cross photo)

Central Saanich takes skydiving concerns to Transport Canada

Mayor Ryan Windsor says District wants feds to ensure skydiving company following the rules

Two skydiving incidents, one that led to injury, this summer from a single company has the District of Central Saanich asking Transport Canada to investigate.

Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor says the District will send a letter of complaint to the federal transportation regulator mainly due to the June 17 skydiving incident that saw tandem parachutists trapped in a tree in a heavily wooded area off Mount Newton Cross Road. Two skydivers suffered minor injuries and had to be rescued by Central Saanich firefighters and an arborist with two decades of aerial rescue training.

Windsor said council is concerned about that incident, and an earlier one this year by the same company — Capital City Skydiving — saying they wish to avoid any possible pattern of such incidents occurring in the drop zones, which happen to be in the municipality.

“It could be a safety concern,” Windsor said in response to a News Review question. “It will be up to Transport Canada to determine of the operator is complying with all of the appropriate regulations.”

In an email to the News Review, a Transport Canada media spokesperson stated their role is to “oversee the operation of the aircraft associated with parachuting and to ensure that the companies are compliant with the Canadian Aviation Regulations and their standards. The regulations pertain to pilot licensing, aircraft maintenance, and passenger carriage. Transport Canada does not regulate parachuting or skydiving.”

The Canadian Sport Parachuting Association, stated Transport Canada, oversees parachuting or skydiving safety guidelines, standards and practices.

Windsor added Central Saanich’s issue is not with any added cost to the District over their response to the skydiving incidents. He said the District’s emergency personnel will respond when called, as they always do.

“Yes, there is a cost,” he continued when pressed on the subject, “but we tend not to break those costs out. Emergency services are there to respond when needed.”

He added there may have been an added cost when the arborist was called in to help with the aerial rescue, noting that the municipality’s budget typically has room to accommodate special requests by emergency services when required.

At the time of the June 17 incident, owner of Capital City Skydiving Bob Verret said he would investigate why the tandem skydivers ended up in the trees.

Contacted Tuesday (Aug. 1) about Central Saanich’s complaint letter, Verret said he was unavailable to comment by phone, but would do so at a later time.

Capital City Skydiving parachutists were also involved in hard landings earlier in June of this year, while participating in the Oak Bay Tea Party. Two were taken to hospital after what Verret at the time described as a change in the wind prevented their parachutes from working properly.

editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

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