By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD
The famous Martin Mars water bomber won’t be dousing the flames of B.C.’s wildfires any time soon, if civic leaders have anything to say about it.
On the last day of the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention in Vancouver on Friday, (Sept. 29, 2017), a late resolution proposed that the provincial government sign a 10-year contract with Coulson Group, the owner of the Martin Mars.
The motion said the Martin Mars bombers, of which there are few left, “are the largest water scoopers in the world with unique and complimentary capabilities to other aircraft and 54 years of service.”
The B.C. government hasn’t hired the plane to fight fires since 2013. The proposed resolution called on the government to put the Martin Mars in the air again as long as it meets operational requirements.
Debate mirrored social media arguments throughout the province over the summer. One mayor called the huge water bomber “iconic,” while another said, “We cannot marginalize the sense of security that this plane gives people.”
But still another said, “It looks good, it impresses people, but it’s not the best use of our resources.”
Things got a little heated when Strathcona Regional District Director Jim Abram, a member of the UBCM executive, called arguments against using the Martin Mars “silly” and “frivolous.”
However, he failed to convince most of the delegates, who defeated the motion handily.