Posted on 22 December 2011 by admin
Town of Osoyoos councillors have unanimously supported spending up to $5,000 to help complete an airport obstacles report to determine if and how the Osoyoos Airport’s runway could be expanded to accommodate larger airplanes in the future.
“I think this is a good investment in our community,” said Councillor C.J. Rhodes. “I think it’s an overall good project to be involved with at this point.”
Mayor Stu Wells agreed, saying this is a small amount of money to spend on a report that will clearly detail if the local airport is capable of being expanded.
Councillor Mike Plante, who spoke at Monday’s final meeting of town council for 2011 via voice conference from a hotel in Arizona, said a final report on possible expansion of the Osoyoos Airport is long overdue.
“This assessment needs to be done,” he said. “We need a yes or a no. This plan will give us the answers we need.”
The idea to look at possible expansion of the Osoyoos Airport dates back several months when Alberta businessman Tom McHale approached town council about possible expansion of the airport runway, with the goal to transport workers from southern British Columbia to oil and gas industry facilities in northeastern Alberta.
McHale’s company, Gemstone Logistics, moved more than 100,000 workers in the last year alone, Wells told councillors Monday. “These folks know what they’re doing,” he said.
In late November, a company hired by McHale said it could prepare a final report on possible airport expansion for roughly $18,000 and they would like a small contribution from town council in the range of $5,000, Wells said.
Town staff recommended council support the proposal, to a maximum of $5,000, which formed the basis for Monday’s discussion and eventual vote to unanimously support the airport report.
Wells said the Osoyoos Indian Band are very interested in the concept of possible airport expansion and appear willing to spend some dollars towards the report, as is the owner of a local winery. With the McHale group and town council on board, this is very good news, he said.
“In my mind, it would appear we have four funders on board and I think it’s so exciting to have three funders from the private sector come forward,” said Wells.
While there are skeptics out there, Rhodes said it’s obvious to him there are legitimate business owners interested in the expansion of the local airport and preparing this report at a cost of only $5,000 to local taxpayers is money being well spent.
“This is not a huge investment,” he said. “If we find out the answer is no and we can’t expand we can cut ties and go back to square one.”
The report is expected to be prepared over the winter months and brought before town council in the spring.