The city has enough cash squirrelled away in reserves that it could buy the Trail Regional Airport outright when negotiations for its sale conclude, says one city councillor.
Robert Cacchioni said the purchase of the airport and its lands from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) would be a capital acquisition by the City of Trail, and would require no borrowing.
The purchase of the airport would be funded out of the land reserve fund and some other surpluses the city had built up, said Cacchioni.
“No we don’t,” have to borrow funds, he said, adding that the sale of the airport could go through if it was amenable to both sides.
The negotiations on the sale are still moving forward, he noted, but the land and facility requires an appraisal before numbers are discussed. The property was originally bought by the RDKB from Teck Trail Operations for $1.5 million.
Cacchioni said the airport budget was set at status quo at the East End Service (EES) meeting Feb. 19 with the only big ticket item being the paving of the air strip stopways. The project was supposed to be done in conjunction with the Ministry of Transportation last year but was delayed.
Cacchioni hoped there would be resolution to negotiations on the airport before the project was set to begin in August.
“Then the city would negotiate for that particular paving,” he said.
It was the issue of the paving that was one of the final straws in the city’s dealings with its other EES partners—including Rossland, Warfield, Fruitvale, Montrose, Area A and Area B—when the project was rejected last year.
After receiving no support for an airport service review in late November, Cacchioni said the city was still committed to expansion of the airport.
And then, fuelled by the impasse over what had been characterized as a lack of support for the airport by the other regional district partners in the service, the city began pursuing the purchase of the airport from the RDKB in January.
After the city buys the airport it will first look at the economic impact study, then, over a number of years, move forward with the $4.7 million in improvements to the airport as suggested by the master plan, including a new terminal, runway extension and new perimeter fencing.
Cacchioni also noted the city would pursue the extension of regular air service to the region to Kelowna.
“That’s not only been the hope of our council but it has been the hope of all of the communities around here,” he said.
Kelowna General Hospital is a major hub for many surgical procedures and many people travel to the city on a regular basis.