MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith: Aviation in Alberta

Opinion column from MLA Mark Smith- Drayton Valley- Devon

About a year ago I was presenting a 100 year family farm award to a constituent and found out that his family had been instrumental in building one of the onion domed Orthodox churches that are found through out the constituency. I asked if I could have a peek inside and he was gracious enough to open the doors of the church and allow me to see the side of the church. It was at times ornate and at the same time rural simple and spoke to the sincere and deeply held faith of Alberta’s Ukrainian pioneers and to those of Ukrainian heritage today.

This past week the Government of Alberta joined Ukrainians across the province, country and world to celebrate 30 years of Ukrainian independence. The very history of Ukraine is one that highlights the tenacity of a people who have stood against adversity and oppression to step forward as united people and a sovereign nation. Across Alberta, the impact of Ukrainians is seen and known their story is an integral part of who we are and where we have come from.

In 2019 a group of UCP MLA’s toured the province as part of the Fair Deal Panel asking Albertans what the government could do to enhance Alberta’s place within confederation and ensure a greater autonomy for Albertans. In response to the Fair Deal Panel report, Alberta’s government has taken one step in asserting provincial authority by appointing a chief firearms officer to stand up for the rights of law-abiding firearms owners. Teri Bryant is the first-ever appointee to the newly created Chief Firearms Office for Alberta. The role of the office includes determining licensing eligibility, compliance with legislation, overseeing the administration of firearms safety courses and other duties that previously fell to the federal government. She will advocate for responsible federal firearms legislation to deter criminals, respect property rights and make sure Albertans continue to live in safe and secure communities.

Alberta is, and always has been, a leader in the aviation and aerospace sectors.

From the bush pilots who give access to the northernmost corners of our province, to the elite fighter pilots who hone their skills at CFB Cold Lake, to the cargo workers who ensure we get the goods and products we need – Alberta’s entrepreneurial spirit has never been limited to the land.

This past week, the government announced a new Strategic Aviation Advisory Council. Part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, this new Council will advise government on how the aviation and aerospace sectors can boost economic growth in Alberta. To put that into real terms, the Council will make recommendations on infrastructure, pilot training, air cargo services, aerospace research and development, as well as aviation services to support agriculture and emergency medical and fire response.

Here’s just one example of the kind of new horizons innovators in the aviation and aerospace sectors are exploring. Pegasus Imagery, an aerospace company based at the Villeneuve Airport near Edmonton, is building remotely piloted aircrafts that can fly for up to ten hours and help first responders fight wildfires and other natural disasters more effectively. Pegasus Imagery was started by a former military paratrooper, and is a prime example of the kind of innovation Albertans are bringing to our skies.

Aviation has a very bright future in Alberta. With WestJet and Flair Airlines headquartered here, our innovation in drones and unmanned flight, and our strong advantages as a continental logistics hub, we are poised for tremendous growth.

The Strategic Aviation Advisory Council will take these strengths and build on them, proving that when it comes to Alberta, the sky is not the limit.

— Mark Smith, MLA for Drayton Valley – Devon