Calling a tribute to Capt. Jennifer Casey a “great idea,” Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said it is important to allow time for people to grieve before renaming Airport Road or pursuing other memorial initiatives.
Immediately after Sunday’s crash of a Snowbirds jet in Kamloops — in which Casey was killed and pilot Capt. Richard MacDougall was sent to hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries — calls emerged for the road leading into the airport to be renamed in her memory.
An online petition has generated significant interest in the initiative, which would see Airport Road renamed Capt. Jennifer Casey Memorial Way, Casey Memorial Way or something of the like. Christian said it is not yet time.
“This is a time when everybody is grieving and they’re reacting,” Christian said. “I, personally, see a more permanent kind of memory for both Captain Casey and for the Snowbirds. I will be talking to council at an appropriate time.”
That time is not yet known, but will depend on Casey’s family, which has thus far been silent publicly until releasing a statement on her death Wednesday at lunchtime.
The mayor said that when he met with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on Tuesday, he had expressed to him concern about Casey's family.
“We’re not going to do anything without her family’s consent,” Christian said. “That’s the first thing. And, with Captain Casey being part of the Snowbirds, she actually had two families. We’re going to be talking to the Snowbirds.”
In addition, Christian noted a number of other ideas and initiatives to pay tribute to the late Snowbirds public affairs officer, including a shawl project and lighting up of the residence at Thompson Rivers University.
“We have a great memorial for the relationship that we have with the 419 squadron at the [Kamloops Airport] roundabout down there,” Christian said. “I think that at some point in time, we would have a more permanent kind of recognition of the Snowbirds, as well, but it’s far too early to do that. There’s a grieving process that needs to happen. That’s what’s happening now. We’re just going to let that process work its way through.”
The investigation into Sunday’s crash is expected to take up to a year to complete.
Meanwhile, a makeshift memorial continues to grow on the fence at Kamloops Airport, with residents and visitors paying their respects. A ceremony will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at the airport to pay tribute to Casey, as will a vehicular parade on Thursday evening, leaving the North Shore A&W restaurant at about 7:20 p.m.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Change.org petition to change the name of Airport Road in memory of Casey had nearly 14,000 supporters.