ATVs, snowmobiles, campers found in government hangar

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

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

A waterbomber dips into the Upper Humber River near the Nicholsville bridge in Deer Lake. TC Media file photo

“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.

Geographic location: Gander

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Recent comments

  • Allan Smith
    January 26, 2014 - 19:48

    Now watch the NAPE and/or CUPE drones leap to their members defense.

  • Bob
    January 25, 2014 - 11:50

    This has been going on for years in Gander. I know because I've seen it and people don't care. It's like a game to these people, they see how long they can go before getting caught. Once caught they'll find another way to cheat and scam. YES these people should be made to pay.

  • Me
    January 24, 2014 - 22:17

    They should not be allowed to use the hangar for personal storage. Getting past that, who pays for damage to the RV, ATV, snowmobile etc if the hangar catches fire?? Then let's hear from the ones that thinks it is ok. Remember, govt money is our money.

  • stephanie
    January 24, 2014 - 16:43

    Sooo... I hope who ever owns the stuff in the hanger has to pay for the space, if not then shame on the government !!!!

  • mike lake
    January 24, 2014 - 16:16

    I guess this is going on a long time now 1 is getting jealous over the other what about the ski doo's ;atv's etc don't get flown back and forth on the back's of the taxpayers from all over the areas from goose bay;labrador;gander and st.john's ask them all about it they will tell you themselves they are having a field day for a lifetime another laught out of the n.l and Labrador kiss me and i'll kiss you.

  • Lynn
    January 24, 2014 - 14:02

    It's not a matter of getting permission. You just can't do that. That's what's wrong with this province, come on people. Glenn and Roy must've have had to move their RV's out this week.

    • Glenn Batstone
      March 28, 2015 - 15:45

      a little slow repling but, Lynn, I don't work for the govt. I am gainfully self employed with my own shop, yard, and equipment. having said that there are many people who use my yard space at no cost simply because i don't require the space at the moment. I pay taxes just like everyone else, and support the economy just like everyone else. The complaints here are just simply due to envy.

  • Gerry
    January 24, 2014 - 14:01

    typical of today's so-called modern 'reporting'....making mountains of mole-hills...big freakin' deal....

    • david
      January 24, 2014 - 15:20

      Hey Gerry! I'm gonna park in that nice long driveway of yours from now on, because you seem to be gone most days. And as someone earlier commented here, if you need me to move so you can get in, just come looking for me...I'll probably be around, and happy to oblige...."no big freakin' deal"!

  • rt
    January 24, 2014 - 13:25

    I dont work for the government but I am an avionics engineer and I can tell you the risk of damage to avionics from the winter temperatures we get here in newfoundland inside a unheated hanger is very low. aircraft operate in much lower temperatures elsewhere and are fine and for any one whos ever seen an aircraft stored in a hanger can tell you the excess space is enormous but not big enough to place another aircraft, there is space under the wings and along the walls of the hanger. it is a common practice for alot of other companies to allow private belongings to be stored in the spare space and as for getting it in the hanger most companies have loading bays for deliveries so there is no need to go on the airside with the equiptment. This article was meant to infuriate the common person who has no idea how the aviation industry works dont let it get under your skin its a whole lot of nothing.

  • roy bean
    January 24, 2014 - 12:10

    Seriously....if the "AG" looked into matters further than skin deep he would have found out that staff had PERMISSION from mgmt to use some excess space for storage. Talk about making mountains out of molehills. No, I am not an employee of the govt, just know the difference, lol.

    • david
      January 24, 2014 - 13:09

      "Excessive entitlement psychosis developed from long-term exposure to an environment that accepts, promotes and rewards a wide variety of selfish & anti-social behaviors". Sounds about right.

    • Jimmy
      January 24, 2014 - 13:20

      Management doesn't have authority to give permission for staff to use a publicly-funded storage space. So you think it is ok for a 30 million dollar aircraft (that is relied upon to put out fires) to sit out in the cold while the staff's personal items take up the space?

  • david
    January 24, 2014 - 10:46

    Leaving a $35 million aircraft out in the winter elements, quite possibly damaging the avionics and leaving the province at risk come fire season......all because a bunch of government jackasses want to keep their hillbilly ATVs warm and not pay for storage. What a sadly idiotic, destructively stupid place this truly is. Welcome tourists.

  • JD
    January 24, 2014 - 10:28

    @Glenn Batstone: I see your point, and yes on the surface it seems innocuous and 'no big deal'. The issue is two things. The use of public assets for personal gain is a slippery slope. Who is to say that certain space is not rented or acquired with the side benefit that people knew they could use it. The choice of the facility is tainted. Security is another issue. These airside hangars are supposed to have stringent access control. Someone had opened the gates by the old GAT building or by forestry and brought private vehicles onto the airport. There are several laws regarding such and I don't think that the vehicles and equipment when transited were allowed to do so (no rotating amber beacons etc). The other issue is safety. In a hangar for instance, no aircraft are stored with their wheels locked so they can be more rapidly vacated from the facility int he case of fire. The aircraft and equipment themselves are designed with hangars in mind. Derelict boats and RVs are not easily removes and pose, in themselves, a fire risk. I agree that there is no need to be looking for blood on this one. Just establish a clear policy and move forward.

  • M
    January 24, 2014 - 10:24

    Glenn is on the money. Theft??!! Really guys??!! Empty space they have to pay for in case they need it should be left empty because.........? I agree they should get permission to use the space (they likely did) and commit to moving their gear out when or if the space is needed. Settle down out there.

  • Where's my perks?
    January 24, 2014 - 10:08

    Glenn Batstone, you do understand that it's taxpayer money funding this free storage. If anything, government could offer space to the public at cost and give everyone the benefit of any excess space.

  • Come On...Really
    January 24, 2014 - 10:04

    The article makes it sound like the plane was in unheated hanger because people have their things stored in the other hanger....Really ...don't be so foolish

  • Scott P
    January 24, 2014 - 09:29

    @ glen batstone Grow up you say?! Get real buddy. It's the tax payers paying for this. If you want to store your PERSONAL belongings in a government building, THEN PAY FOR IT. This isn't a matter of whining. It's a matter of right and wrong. Clearly you cannot differentiate between the two. I for one certainly hope you are not an elected member of government. In NL or elsewhere. If you are, I suggest you reconsider your position on matters like this, or step down.

  • Glenn Batstone
    January 24, 2014 - 08:59

    People give your heads a shake. Stealing, pay rent, you are of your nut. If the space is there and it isn't costing the govt anymore dollars why not allow an employee of employees access to a storage spot. When and if it is needed for govt storage space then just move the stuff out. Why does every benifit have to be negotiated in a contract. This is nothing more than whining. Grow up.

    • Thomas
      January 24, 2014 - 09:38

      Listen up Pal - As a tax payer and a payer of the hanger as well as the employee's salary I'll be dammed if I'm gonna foot the bill for his RV storage when I'm paying $100.00 a month to store mine down the street. I suppose he washes and waxes it on work time as well?

    • No soup for you!
      January 24, 2014 - 10:14

      And there you have it folks. If you got something to say about how your tax dollars are being squandered and wasted by the PCs, you are being told as usual, to just suck it up you bunch of weaklings. That's their answer for everything isn't it? What a farce.

    • david
      January 24, 2014 - 10:39

      As infuriatingly incomprehensible as this comment is, old Glenn here represents the view of far too many Newfoundlanders on embezzling from "government". Which is why we get so much incredible value for the taxes we pay. Our creed: "Quick! Take it before someone else does!"

  • Could someone get a bucket
    January 24, 2014 - 08:08

    Could someone get a bucket of water to throw over the PCs please. They're stuck in the trough.

  • JD
    January 24, 2014 - 07:37

    I have been in that hangar for a number of times over the last decades and this is NOT a new thing. In reality, the hangars were massive and there were campers there, boats, stored vehicles... at one time there was even a furniture set. For the most part these things were against walls and not out of the way, however piggybacking the tax $$$ for this is certainly not fair. Add to that the fire risks of vehicles and campers with fuel, propane tanks etc. I am sure those hazards were not part of the safety inspections in the hangar. I don't think anything drastic needs to be done, but certainly all personal items needs to be removed and the understanding going forward is that public facilities are not to be used for public gain - unless we can all put our campers and boats in there too.

  • Jim
    January 24, 2014 - 07:28

    Those involved should have to pay back rent on space used or Go To Jail, Sounds Like Corruption and White wash if nothing is done to these people.

  • Who
    January 23, 2014 - 21:07

    Who's in charge out there, and who is his boss??? Didn't anybody think "Boys, we can't put this stuff here. We are going to look pretty stupid if we get caught"

  • Alex
    January 23, 2014 - 21:00

    These people using a government hanger for their own gain should be made pay rent for the space and remove their items from the premises. If they want to buck the system they should be fired on the spot. Theft is theft no matter form its in.

  • John doe
    January 23, 2014 - 20:11

    After completing work in hanger 1 countless times, it really is aggravating seeing this time and time again. If I parked my car at the airport it would be ticketed and towed? Who is giving the okay and why? There is no proper management in Government,unfortunately.

  • Lonewolf
    January 23, 2014 - 20:01

    This is theft off taxpayer dollars and I want my money back, so calculate the square footage used by these thieves and make them pay for it.

  • Richard
    January 23, 2014 - 18:09

    It was all found parked illegally on private government property. Seize the contents and auction it off to help pay the bill....

  • John
    January 23, 2014 - 15:29

    We can save some more money and fire the offenders!