There was no provincial interest to fund Sechelt’s airport expansion at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference last week.
The District of Sechelt wants to extend the Wilson Creek airport runway to 1,300 metres to accommodate commercial flights, install new lighting and a new terminal and develop some of the surrounding industrial lands with aviation-related businesses.
So far the municipality has not been able to secure any funding for the project.
Sechelt Mayor John Henderson and airport advisory committee liaison Coun. Chris Moore spoke with various provincial politicians while at UBCM, pitching the need for airport expansion in Sechelt.
“In the case of Todd Stone, the Minister of Transportation, he totally empathized with our predicament. He was on the Kamloops Airport advisory committee years ago, so he was pretty familiar with the story,” Moore said. “That said, I suppose you know the provincial treasury is very tight right now. They’re trying to do a balanced budget and I think we have an uphill battle in front of us, frankly. Sechelt’s just not a big priority for those guys.”
The estimated cost of the airport expansion project is about $5 million, Moore said.
“That’ll get us there for sure with the new terminal building and the kind of certification that we want,” he said. “But keep in mind we have no desire to move forward on the airport unless it can support itself. We have no desire to create a black hole for the tax base of this community.”
Moore added that the committee is still interested in creating a private/public partnership to move expansion plans forward if possible.
“But the revenues that are generated have to be sufficient to offset any kind of debt service on the airport or capital money we put into it,” Moore said.