Helicopter access is returning to Tofino General Hospital early next year.
Island Health announced Monday a partnership with the Tofino General Hospital Foundation and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to construct a new helipad adjacent to the hospital.
Island Health will cover 60 per cent of the project cost, while the Alberni-Clayoquot hospital district will take care of the rest.
The new landing site will be in the same area as the existing helipad, which closed in December 2011 after Transport Canada issued an order for upgrades.
After the helipad was shut down, patients requiring an air ambulance had to be driven 20 minutes from the hospital to Tofino-Long Beach Airport.
“It’s a critical piece of infrastructure that has been challenging to live without, and we welcome its return,” said Tofino Mayor and hospital district chair Josie Osborne.
Island Health says a project plan was developed after a consultation with community stakeholders in late 2016.
A request for construction proposals will be issued in the coming weeks and work will begin on the new helipad once a tender is awarded.
“We know helicopter access to Tofino General Hospital is a priority for residents of the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and we appreciate the community support and feedback we received during our planning process,” Island Health chair Leah Hollins said.