Airport volunteer Al Doherty

Airport volunteer Al Doherty

Extended parking lot a lasting legacy

Travelers parking their vehicles at the Trail Airport before they board should never have trouble finding a spot again.

Travelers parking their vehicles at the Trail Airport before they board should never have trouble finding a spot again.

The parking lot at the terminal has tripled the approximate 25 spots it had before with the addition of an overspill lot, which should stop drivers from parking on the highway and will match capacity should Pacific Coastal ever set up a route from Trail to Kelowna.

“This is a win-win for the citizens of Trail, the regional district and the City of Trail,” said Wally Penner, regional project manager for the engineering and construction firm SNC Lavalin Inc.

Representatives from the Kootenay Boundary Regional District and contractors joined him Thursday at the airport lot for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

With the Waneta expansion project underway, the ownership group –Columbia Power Corporation, Columbia Basin Trust and Fortis Inc. – are dedicated to leaving a lasting legacy behind.

Contractors ASL Joint Venture and Emil Anderson partnered up to extend the parking lot at the airport, create a fire lane to the taxi way and level out airport land for future development in exchange for sand and gravel that was used at the expansion site.

Though the exchange didn’t cost anything, the labour and equipment used to complete the airport land work would have likely cost “tens of thousands of dollars,” according to Bryan Teasdale, airport operations manager.

“It’s something that we’ve always talked about doing but just with lack of funding and resources it never really happened,” he said. “But the opportunity to work in partnership presented itself so we jumped on it.”

The work on one side of the fence begs the question for future development at the airport, which is being talked about at the regional table.

An airport master plan has been developed and the east-end stakeholders, which governs the airport, are now discussing what lies ahead.

Exploring future needs of the airport include updating old equipment, the possibility of paid employees, lengthening the runway and building a new terminal building.

“That’s the kind of golden goose master plan, that’s the sky-is-the-limit plan and of course we know that the sky is not the limit around here – we simply don’t have the funding,” said Rossland councillor Kathy Wallace, chair of the east-end stakeholders.

“As it is right now (the airport) provides a service that people are certainly using – it’s easy, you’re flying into the south terminal, there’s no security and you don’t have to be here an hour in advance.”

But that said, with the economic growth foreseen in the city, specifically in Trail’s industrial land, the airport has to be ready to expand.

Ridership is climbing at the airport, with an annual projection of 12,000 passengers nearly reached in August, according to Teasdale.