Trail airport’s future remains up in the air

Members of the East End Services (EES) were met with an unexpected proposal from the City of Trail at its board meeting Tuesday night.

Plans for the Trail Regional Airport have once again been sent into a tailspin.

Members of the East End Services (EES) were met with an unexpected proposal from the City of Trail at its board meeting Tuesday night.

The city presented a letter with an official request to purchase the airport from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), which certainly put a new twist on the fate of the airport.

In a unanimous vote, the seven members of the East End Services (EES) committee gave the City of Trail the go-ahead to proceed with its proposal.

“I think it is a very positive solution for a contentious issue that has been happening for a number of years,” said Kathy Wallace, board member from Rossland.

“If the City of Trail is serious about owning and operating it, then I think that’s great,” she added.

“They can proceed in their own direction without having to worry about the rest of us.”

Wallace said the vote does show good cooperation amongst the communities that are trying to work together.

“Our communities need to hear that we are really trying to work together.”

The proposal is in its infancy stage, and before it proceeds, must approach the whole regional district board for further discussion.

“We have yet to discuss the value of the airport, what we purchased it for, and what are we willing to look at in terms of selling it to Trail,” said Larry Gray board chair of the RDKB.

“Those in-depth discussions will be held in camera,” he said.

“But negotiations around the purchase of the airport will be dealt with and brought out in a public meeting.”

The RDKB has received criticism about its tentative approach to expanding the airport.

On the agenda for the Tuesday night meeting, was the 2013 budget for the airport, which has to be completed by March 31.

Gray said that it has all been put on hold now, because the RDKB will not commit to taxpayers putting out money for the airport if ownership is going to be transferred over to Trail.

As posted on the RDKB website, the 2013 draft budget for the airport called for numerous recommendations, which included; replacing the terminal building at a cost of $1 million dollars; paving the stop ways and parking lot at a cost of $250,000; and application for federal funding in the amount of $1 million dollars to resurface the runway.

“This was our first meeting since the service review ended in November,” said Gray.

“And these were projects that we were considering, it is a bit frustrating.”

The next step for the City of Trail will be to put its proposal before all of the RDKB members at a board meeting on Jan. 31 in Grand Forks.

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

There is no business plan in place yet, and the city has no idea of the actual purchase price, but the idea was propelled forward with full council support, said councilor Rick Georgetti.