ATVs, snowmobiles, campers found in government hangar

New waterbomber left in cold in 2011 due to lack of heated space

Published on January 23, 2014
A waterbomber dips into the Upper Humber River near the Nicholsville bridge in Deer Lake on Friday. The sight of the plane dipping to the water caused a more than one driver to pull over and watch. Star photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick

Provincial government staff with access to two aircraft hangars in central Newfoundland have been caught using the rented spaces for their own, personal gain.

“During our review, we noted that there was personal property being stored in a leased hangar in Gander which is intended for storage of government-owned aircraft,” reads the latest report from the provincial auditor general.

“These personal items included automobiles, campers, motorcycles, boats, golf carts, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.”

According to the report, released this morning, the province paid out about $1.6 million for use of its two aircraft hangars in Gander in 2013.

Even with these rentals, hangar space is at a premium — particularly heated hangar space.

Of the two spaces in Gander, one space is heated and the other is not. New waterbombers being brought in since 2009 to replace older aircraft are meant to be housed in heated spaces.

Two and a half years ago, the province was caught without space in the heated hangar for its newest waterbomber.

“Upon the delivery of the third new waterbomber, in August 2011, there was insufficient heated hangar space available,” the AG’s report states.

Due to a lack of space, the aircraft was housed in the unheated hangar, risking damage to electronic instrumentation.

The auditor general is recommending the government plan ahead more in terms of properly housing new waterbombers in cold temperatures.

It has also been recommended government have its employees stop benefiting personally from publicly funded hangar space.

A representative for the Department of Natural Resources’ forestry services branch has confirmed there were items, staff personal property, stored in a leased hangar in Gander.

“A review of inventory is underway and corrective action is being taken to remove any personal items in leased government space and to ensure this doesn’t occur again,” stated a written response from government to the auditor general’s report.