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VIDEO: Minister visits Williams Lake to see LiDAR aerial mapping project

Kîsik Geospatial and Aerial Survey flew to Williams Lake to meet Cullen

B.C.’s minister of water, land and resource stewardship said Thursday he is amazed of the work underway to map the entire province using light detecting and ranging (LiDAR).

Nathan Cullen chatted with a crew from Kîsik GeoSpatial & Aerial Survey Company who had flown two of their planes to the Williams Lake Regional Airport to meet with him.

Cullen said the project will give communities, First Nations and everyone the kind of information needed to be able to plan for flooding, fires, conservation, old growth protection and resource development.

“I’m just so proud,” he said.

Initially a flyover of Williams Lake was planned for the minister, but the weather prevented that from happening.

Instead, Cullen joined Kîsik chief pilot and operations manager Robyn Stewart and acquisitions manager Corey Newton inside one of the planes to see the instruments and learn more about LiDAR.

Stewart has been a commercial pilot since 2000. She has done survey flying since 2006 and flown for Kîsik since 2011.

Newton said they began the project at the end of August and anticipate it will take about four years to complete it.

Covering over 950,000 square kilometres the LiDAR project is the biggest of its kind.

“The only other one that I could find was in France,” Newton said. “They did about 500,000 square kilometres, but the majority of it is pretty flat and non-mountainous. We got our work cut out for us for sure. It’s ambitious.”

Newton said the project will give everyone a common point of data and from that information communities might decide they want to have further study done of a specific area.

Cullen said many communities are telling government, including in the Cariboo, their 200-year-flood zone does not feel like a 200-year flood zone anymore, that hydrology is changing and flooding is changing and asked if the project will help with that.

Responding, Newton said the precision and accuracy combined of LiDAR can give more information than photographs can.

After meeting with the crew he said he could feel the pride of the folks working on the project, what it means for B.C. and for the world.

Presently, the province makes a large collection of LiDAR data that accounts for 14 per cent of B.C.’s landscape free and equally accessible to everyone on the LidarBC website.

“New LiDAR data sourced from Kîsik will significantly update the province’s digital models of landscapes that are based on aerial imagery taken 30 years ago, and will include detailed representations of forests, buildings and other infrastructure,” noted a news release from the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship.

The program will initially concentrate on gathering data for rural areas and other areas of the province that are not currently represented in the LidarBC database.

In April 2023, the province announced $38 million in support for the new program.

READ MORE: Talon Helicopters conducts LiDar FortisBC aerial surveys

READ MORE: Laser technology used in forest inventory

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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