The Pemberton Regional Airport Authority’s plans to expand
their airport are inching ahead, as the authority recently released its
“strategic plan” and issued a request for proposals to continue to assess
The report, compiled by InterVISTAS Consulting Inc., found that
the airport, which is owned by the Village of Pemberton, gets most of its
revenue from airport and leasing fees. But these payments are insufficient to
cover annual operation costs, like maintenance, insurance and administration,
resulting in net losses in 2005 and 2006.
The report concludes the airport is underutilized, presenting a
significant lost opportunity cost, and recommends seeking new sources of
David MacKenzie, president of the airport authority board, says
they want to change that.
“The reality is we already have an airport, it’s there, there
are people using it, and it’s costing the taxpayer money,” said MacKenzie.
“…We want to, at the very least, be able to operate this with
some cost recovery.”
But InterVISTAS’ report doesn’t make a conclusive
recommendation to the authority; it outlines three possible scenarios.
The first, maintaining the status quo, would mean no
development would be undertaken, and the airport would continue to be
underutilized and operate at a cost to the village.
The second scenario would see the airport undergo some capital
improvements, like fencing, gravel parking, a new terminal, and possible runway
extension. This option would require “significantly increased spending,” but
wouldn’t increase revenue much, and probably wouldn’t attract grants from
provincial or federal government, as it doesn’t have a strong economic impact
Finally, the third scenario would see the airport expanded to
support year-round service from a major air carrier, which would require an
engineering analysis and subsequent extension of the runway, a new terminal,
expanded apron, and installation of navigational aids.
With these improvements, the airport could attract up to six
scheduled flights per day from major North American cities, which would provide
a revenue stream and access to new markets. The report states that this option
has a greater potential to stimulate the local economy, and would therefore be
more likely to attract government capital grants.
InterVISTAS also noted that because of the 2010 Olympics,
Pemberton is in a good position to attract government funding, but this support
is expected to decline after the Games.
During the public consultation process, residents expressed
concern over potential noise, air navigation, and potential First Nations land