The Pemberton Airport will soon become ground-zero for military operations, as it hosts training ops by the RCMP and Canadian Forces in advance of the 2010 Olympics.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said at a council meeting Tuesday morning that the Canadian Forces will soon be installing a temporary radar facility at the Pemberton Airport. The facility, Sturdy said, will help security personnel track air activity above the mountains.
"As you can imagine, the geography you live in, radar that's currently installed for air traffic doesn't really deal with any aircraft that's below 10,000 feet because of the height of the mountains," he said. "As a security issue, there would be concern that they could access venue sites by flying low, essentially."
Security personnel have already used the airport for what Sturdy called a "bronze training exercise," which consisted of what could have been the "biggest tabletop exercise the RCMP have ever had in Canada.
It's expected that the temporary radar facility will be installed at the airport in time for "silver training" to take place there from Feb. 9 to 13. Sturdy said that training would include ground exercises, but he did not provide further specifics.
"Gold training" for security personnel is expected to take place in the fall. That stage will confirm whether existing plans for 2010 security are working.
Pique reported in August that 1,800 military personnel could find themselves at home in the Sea to Sky corridor during the Olympics. Sturdy said at the time that Canadian Forces representatives had expressed interest in the Pemberton Airport for a temporary housing camp, though no commitments had been made at that point.
When asked on Tuesday about the progress of a military camp in Pemberton, Sturdy said that the Canadian Forces are looking to make use of a firefighting base beyond the Pemberton Airport.
Village council also received a delegation from the RCMP. Sgt. Blake MacLeod with the Pemberton detachment and Inspector Norm McPhail presented yearly and quarterly statistics for various offences.
Arrests made during the Pemberton Music Festival came up numerous times in the report.
Year-end statistics showed that 258 prisoners were held in 2008, compared with 199 in 2007. Sixty-eight of these prisoners were held during the festival.
Charges of marijuana possession over 30 grams almost tripled between 2007 and 2008. RCMP recorded 12 counts of marijuana possession in 2007. There were 32 in 2008; 21 of them came during the Pemberton Music Festival.
Weed, however, wasn't the only drug found during the festival. There were two counts of possession of cocaine in 2008, up from zero in 2007. One of those counts came during the festival.
Instances of ecstasy possession rose during the festival as well. There were no recorded counts of possession in 2007 but there were 10 in 2008 - nine of them during the Pemberton Fest.
The RCMP also recorded higher counts of break and enters in 2008. There were 10 break-ins at businesses last year, compared with seven the year before. Two of those occurred during the Pemberton Festival.
There were also eight break-ins at residential properties in 2008, one of them during the festival. That was up from six total residential break-ins in 2007.