RDKB responds to airport funds issue

Chair of the R.D.K.B. responds to the City of Trail withholding $50,000 from the airport purchase.

It was with great disappointment that once again, the City of Trail is criticizing the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary in the media (City withholds $50K from airport purchase, Trail Times May 28).

The issue this time is the sale of the Trail Regional Airport and the withholding of some funds by the City of Trail. Here’s the real story:

Trail withheld just over $50,000 from the final payment in their purchase of the airport due to what they deemed to be deficiencies.

The Regional District Board discussed this decision extensively. We agreed some of the costs were justified, and in fact we had set aside funds in the budget for that possibility.

The Regional District offered to assist many times, but the City never accepted that invitation.

The Board discussed the remaining withholdings and ultimately decided that another fight in our region was not worth the cost.

The following is clarification of the troubling accusations made by the city:

• At no point did Transport Canada, the regulator of airports, indicate to the Regional District that the operating permit for the airport was in jeopardy.

• The PVI (program verification inspection) was the first of its kind, evaluating a brand new program. The Regional District invited the City to participate and they did.

• The PVI took place just as the transfer was taking place, so there was no opportunity to develop an action plan by the Regional District.

• Many items that Trail deemed to be deficiencies had nothing to do with the PVI.

• The Regional District takes its responsibility to respect the laws and regulations in place seriously.

• The Regional District takes its responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money seriously.

• The Regional District would never willingly risk the safety of others.

Obviously there was a difference of opinion on how the airport should be managed and developed. A majority of the participants in the Airport Service (the Lower Columbia communities) felt one way and the City of Trail felt otherwise. That is precisely why the airport was sold by the Regional District and purchased by Trail.

We do not believe airing our differences in the media is productive.

We prefer to discuss these issues face to face. It is troubling that the City decides to publicly criticize the Regional District on a matter that was finalized months ago.

The Regional District is committed to collaboration and cooperation and indeed (after listening to the All Candidates Forum in for Trail before the election) had high hopes that the desire to improve communication would be forthcoming.

How do attacks in the media foster collaboration and cooperation in the region?

Cities, like people, earn respect they don’t demand it.

Reader, form your own opinion, now that you’ve heard the rest of the story.

Grace McGregor

RDKB Chair