Trail airport talks ready for takeoff

The City of Trail has conditions that must be met as it moves ahead with its proposal to purchase the regional airport from the RDKB.

There is wind beneath the wings of an offer to purchase the regional airport.

The City of Trail has conditions that must be met as it moves ahead with its proposal to purchase the regional airport from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).

What may be the most problematic stipulation, is the dissolution of services upon sale.

“This is an important issue,” said Larry Gray, RDKB board chair.

He explained that in the event that the airport is sold, services that include fire and waste management would be dissolved.

That means, if the operating costs exceed what the city can maintain, then the only way the RDKB would consider taking the airport under its wing again, is through a referendum.

“We (RDKB) would put a vote to the people before accepting it back.”

Councillor Robert Cacchioni countered that the airport would run exactly as it is now.

“Regarding the dissolution of services, all that means is that it will be run under the auspices of the City of Trail,” he said.

City of Trail residents currently foot 44 per cent of the taxes for the airport.

In the event of the purchase, the East End Services (EES), a subcommittee of the RDKB including Rossland, Warfield, Montrose, Fruitvale, Area A and B) would no longer be responsible to pay the balance.

“The only difference upon sale would be that they (EES) would not longer be paying taxes to support the service,” said Cacchioni.

“Although, the other areas would still have the benefit of the airport services.”

According to the press release, the board established conditions which include: the asset (airport) will be sold at fair market value, following an independent appraisal; and the City of Trail must cover all costs of the transaction.

“We are happy that the RDKB has moved this quickly in terms of offering the opportunity to negotiate and move ahead with the purchase of the land,” said Cacchioni.

“We want to wrap this up as quickly as possible.”

The purchase negotiations of the airport is being kept out of the political ring, and is entrusted to the staff of the RDKB and City of Trail.

“The staff (RDKB), not politicians, is responsible for negotiations over the sale of the property,” said Gray.

On Feb. 19, the EES will meet at the district’s boardroom in Trail.

“We will be discussing other potential plans in case the sale does not go through,” said Gray.

Until such time as the sale is concluded (or not), the airport will remain the responsibility of the RDKB and the taxpayers of the Kootenay end of the regional district, added Gray.

At a Trail council meeting in January, a motion was passed to begin the process of acquisition of the airport.

At the time, Coun. Rick Georgetti said that no business plan was yet in place, but the idea was propelled forward with full council support.

On Jan. 31, at a meeting of RDKB, hosted in Grand Forks, the full board of directors agreed to enter into discussions with the city.

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