The future of the Pemberton Airport will be determined by the
people of Pemberton, but Whistler-Blackcomb would be willing to put up some
seed money if that future included expansion to allow for 70-passenger
commercial jet service.
Stuart Rempel, vice president of sales and marketing for
Whistler-Blackcomb, said the company is prepared to invest “seven figures” if
airport expansion goes ahead and a commercial airline starts servicing
The Pemberton Regional Airport Authority held an open house
Monday to gather public input and help the board determine a course of action.
The open house included a presentation by InterVISTAS, a
company hired to study the technical and marketing potential of the airport.
InterVISTAS’ Rob Benyon presented three scenarios for consideration:
• leave the airport as it is with 3,900 foot runway, which would
leave it too small for commercial flights but would still allow for helicopter
and other aviation services;
• expand the airport to allow for commercial flights using
planes that carry 20-70 passengers;
• expand the runway to more than 6,000 feet to allow for large
Benyon said in his opinion the second scenario was most
Several Pemberton residents raised concerns about noise and
pollution from commercial flights, as well as basic services like water, sewer
and electricity that are not yet available at the airport.
Beynon said newer commercial aircraft use quieter technology
and aren’t as noisy as trains that run through the area. He also said that
commercial airlines are more responsive to neighbours’ concerns than are
Beynon also acknowledged that the “unique topography” of the
area — the airport’s proximity to the mountains, winter fog, wind and
weather conditions — also posed challenges to commercial service.
David MacKenzie, president of the Pemberton Regional Airport
Authority, said concerns voiced at the Monday’s meeting will be taken into
consideration at PRAAs next meeting.
“Those comments will kind of be put together in a report,
presented back to the board, and then we’ve got to kind of decide if we have enough
public comment to move forward,” said MacKenzie.
But overall, MacKenzie believes response has been “quite
“I think people are starting to come to the realization that
we’re not ramping up the airport to handle 737s, and that’s not what this is