The City of Kamloops, B.C., is building a memorial within a new park near the airport to honour Capt. Jennifer Casey, who lost her life during a Canadian Forces Snowbirds tour one year ago.
Casey, 35, was a public affairs officer for the Snowbirds aerobatic jet team and a former journalist from Halifax. She died on May 17, 2020, when the aircraft she was in crashed after takeoff in the southern Interior city.
That flight was part of the Snowbirds' cross-country tour to recognize the efforts of Canadians in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was dubbed Operation Inspiration.
On Monday, Mayor Ken Christian unveiled the city's plan to create Fulton Field Park on a section of Tranquille Road near the Kamloops Airport — and establish a memorial within the park to remember Casey's legacy.
"It'll be an interpretive park that will talk about the history of that important field. It will go on to talk about the Snowbirds and their importance as part of a Canadian institution," Christian said at a press conference.
"It will be a place for Kamloops residents to meet … to reflect on the life and vision of Capt. Casey," he continued.
Casey's death was as a result of engine failure caused by a bird strike, according to the Canadian Forces' investigation released in March. The plane crashed and burned in the front yard of a house in the Brocklehurst neighbourhood east of the airport.
The jet's pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, managed to eject before impact and ended up in hospital with serious injuries.
Casey's partner, Capt. Scott Boyd, was also part of the Snowbirds team and was at the airport when the crash happened last year. He says he still clearly remembers what happened on that fateful day, and is thankful for support from the local community.
"This has been the longest year of my life, but it also feels like just yesterday," Boyd said at the press conference, wearing a jacket with Casey's name on it. "It's been absolutely incredible the kindness and compassion and support that Kamloops has shown us — the community, Brocklehurst, the First Nations here."
"The city here will always be very special…and it just makes me very proud to be a Canadian," he said.
The construction of Fulton Field Park is expected to finish in 2023.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Forces said Monday they planned to resume the Snowbirds' flight demonstration tour next month, after the entire 2020 season was cancelled following Casey's death.