Trail airport economic study won’t stop review

Trail councillor questions results of economic study

With the airport service review ready to take flight the city’s representative on that committee says the findings of the recent economic impact study fly in the face of the true value of the facility.

Robert Cacchioni said the negative findings of the draft Trail Regional Airport Economic Impact Assessment do not undermine the review process now underway to determine who is in and who isn’t on board with the shared service.

Cacchioni dismissed the assessment, saying it was limited and lacked vision.

“I look at the study and I don’t particularly believe everything that is in there,” he said. “Whatever the outcome, the city still stands behind the service.”

The economic assessment stated that future decisions of expansion at the airport should be balanced with the minimal economic impact the airport holds, a crippling statement delivered in advance of the review.

But Cacchioni countered, saying if a study was done on the Kelowna aiport in 1958 when the Okanagan city’s population was less than the population in Trail, it would not have recommended putting an airport there.

Although Cacchioni did not suggest the Silver City would expand like Kelowna, the groundwork laid by the construction of the airport served the city well as the years went by.

“When you look at the airport in Kelowna to see what that airport has done, most of the economic drivers in that area came through the airport,” he said. “Maybe (the airport) is going to cost us a few dollars to start … but we know it saves millions of dollars in fares for our taxpayers.

“That alone is a major issue that really isn’t factored in.”

Currently, East End Service participants—including Trail, Rossland, Warfield, Fruitvale, Montrose, Area A and Area B—will be tasked to find the reasons why there is a “lack of congruence” and apparent indifference to the service from its participants.

There had been an ongoing issue and concern in Trail city council when plans for the regional airport had been advanced in the past, said Cacchioni.

According to a City of Trail staff report, recent decisions and statements at the East End Services Commission demonstrate there is a divided opinion on the airport and the participants contributing the majority of the costs (Trail) are now “being outvoted by the minority financial contributors.”

It was that impasse that prompted Trail city council to initiate the formal service review under the Local Government Act.

The service review would provide the opportunity for any participant that does not see the benefit in the service to withdraw at the conclusion of the review.

This is the third service review the city has launched in recent years with its regional partners, with the parks and recreation service and the ongoing sewer service review having their day in court in the last decade.

The service review is expected to be completed by April, 2013.