Sechelt’s soon-to-be-formed airport advisory committee will be looking at the details of a proposal to grant the Elphinstone Aero Club a new 20-year lease on the land it uses for its clubhouse and aircraft tie-downs at the Sechelt Airport.
The club’s Steve Drinkwater appeared before council March 20 to give the new council a picture of the club’s activities ahead of a vote authorizing staff to negotiate the new lease.
Drinkwater told council that the volunteer work club members put into airport maintenance, and keeping the clubhouse open for use as a transit lounge, help the district keep costs down. He also said one of the reasons the club is seeking a 20-year lease instead of the 10-year term of the previous lease is to justify spending money on a new roof for the building.
The only contentious part of the proposed agreement is the issue of tie-down spaces. The club had two included in its previous lease term, but Drinkwater said there is currently only one club-owned aircraft. He said over the years the club has improved the two spots by adding cables and electric outlets.
“You can understand that with all the volunteerism we put into this airport, having the district chip away at the assets we do have is kinda like a kick in the teeth,” he said. When asked by council, Drinkwater said they’d like to keep the second tie-down spot to be used by transient aircraft and visitors, and the small amount of money they might be able to charge for using it could help fund things like a cleaning service for the building.
“Our main concern was that they would use that space as revenue generation, in competition with the district. We are in the business of renting space, hangers, etc.,” said director of finance Doug Stewart in explaining why staff were proposing a change to the lease area. “We, at this point, didn’t feel it was appropriate to provide the Elphinstone [Aero] Club with a revenue opportunity that we would be forgoing.”
Stewart wasn’t able to give an estimate of the potential revenue from a tie-down spot, but Coun. Eric Scott, a pilot, said he pays $300 per year for his tie-down spot at the airport.
The terms of reference for the airport advisory committee are still being finalized, but Mayor Darnelda Siegers said she expects the committee to start work soon.