Trail Airport plans moving forward

Before City of Trail lands ownership of the Trail Regional Airport Feb. 15, there are a few obstacles to be removed.

Before the Silver City lands ownership of the Trail Regional Airport Feb. 15, a few obstacles in the deal with the regional district have to be unearthed.

Trail announced its $1.28 million plan to purchase the 4,000-foot strip from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) last month, with the transaction to be completed in two payments of $640,000 over the next eight months.

However, as part of an environmental assessment, the agreement outlines a caveat that the RDKB must remove two underground fuel tanks, scheduled for March 1, from the site at no cost to the city.

The city’s first payment of $520,000 will be paid to the RDKB on Feb. 15, with $120,000 being held back pending removal of the tanks.

“This is when the first payment is due,” explained David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer (CAO). “Less the holdback until the tanks are removed,” he said, adding, “the second payment of $640,000 is payable on Aug. 15, 2014.”

Later this month, Transport Canada will be conducting a full inspection of the airport before an operating certificate is issued to Trail.

“The inspection is not a condition of the agreement,” said Perehudoff. “However, the city did want to see it completed before title transfer.”

Preliminary discussions between the city and Transport Canada revealed no immediate issues and there is no direct cost to the city related to the inspection.

Further, the city would expect that any issues identified would be addressed by the RDKB before ownership is transferred, the CAO added.

In late January, Transport Canada will be completing a Program Validation Inspection (PVI) and reviewing airport documents including operation and safety manuals, and wildlife and emergency plans, explained Bryan Teasdale, RDKB’s manager of infrastructure and sustainability.

“Those documents are already approved by Transport Canada,” he said. “The purpose of this inspection is to review them and verify the airport is in compliance,” continued Teasdale. “Additionally, if new Best Practises are identified to further improve operations, these will be incorporated into the manuals accordingly.”

Trail Regional Airport was last inspected in 2008, and since that time the focus has been implementation of Safety Management Systems, according to Sau Sau Liu, communications officer for Transport Canada.

“Transport Canada does not conduct inspections every time an airport is sold,” said Liu. “We do, however, consider a change in ownership, or change in management as factors in determining inspection priorities and schedules.”

Under the regional district’s ownership, the airport service, which includes two scheduled commercial flights daily, was volunteer-run.

As a first step in the initial phase of acquisition, the city is advertising a full-time airport manager position, with interviews expected to start after the Jan. 31 application deadline date.

The newly created job includes a laundry list of responsibilities that highlight efficient operation and growth of airside and groundside operations.

At Monday’s governance meeting, council approved the purchase of a $33,000 portable trailer to house office space in anticipation of an airport manager commencing employment.

Trail first approached the RDKB in January 2013 with an official request to purchase the Trail Regional Airport following a service review that put the city and district at odds about future expansion of the regional service.

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