Posted on 17 October 2012 by admin
Almost everyone would agree the Osoyoos Airport is a great little facility.
Making the Osoyoos Airport a bigger and better version than the one that currently exists is an idea that has been discussed at great length over the past couple of years.
That conversation only got louder following a presentation by Tom McHale, president and owner of Gemstone Logistics, after he approached town staff and town council last year with a proposal to expand the airport with the goal of transporting workers from southern B.C. to oil and gas industry sites in northern Alberta.
In theory, his plan makes a lot of sense as big companies in the oil and gas industry are spending tens of millions of dollars transporting workers from all across the country in order to fill the skilled labour requirements in that province.
Considering this province is geographically right next door, it only makes sense to try and bring many of those workers from British Columbia.
Several months ago, town council approved spending up to $5,000 on a study to determine if expansion of the Osoyoos Airport was possible. That report is now complete and the results are very encouraging, says McHale and Mayor Stu Wells.
Jet Pro Consultants, an engineering firm from Alberta, was hired by Gemstone Logistics to complete the study.
McHale says the findings clearly indicate after a runway expansion and additional upgrades are completed, the Osoyoos Airport would be able to meet all requirements necessary for larger aircrafts to be used to transport workers to and from northern Alberta.
The local geology, weather and community support for airport expansion are also encouraging, according to the report and McHale.
As with almost everything in life, the almighty dollar will likely determine when, if and how possible expansion of the Osoyoos Airport ever takes place.
Wells has made it very clear local taxpayers will not be expected to contribute a red penny to airport expansion.
“This isn’t going to be a large tax-dollar initiative. It’s going to come from the private sector,” said Wells.
That’s exactly the way it should be.
Osoyoos is a small town that is fortunate enough to have a small airport that currently serves this community just fine. Local small airplane owners have a great facility to use and fly from.
The residents of this community are also fortunate Penticton is only 40 minutes away and the Kelowna International Airport is less than two hours away.
If wealthy business owners like McHale want to expand the Osoyoos Airport and pay the entire costs of expansion, then town council would be foolish not to listen.
However, if plans change and those interested in expanding the airport suddenly ask for a significant amount of taxpayer dollars to be involved in order for the expansion to take place, then it’s up to the members of council to state emphatically that’s simply not going to happen.
McHale expects a feasibility study on the Osoyoos Airport expansion to be completed before the end of the year. He will then ask to meet with members of council for a further update.
As long as he doesn’t return asking for local taxpayer money, we wish him nothing but good luck. The bottom line is the Osoyoos Airport currently serves the needs of this community just fine. Any expansion must be paid for entirely by the private sector – the people who will enjoy the benefits of expansion.