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Nakusp council to look into airport improvements


September 13, 2021
By John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

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A couple of impassioned letters received at the August 23 council meeting has Nakusp Village council considering the need to improve the local airport (CAQ5, British Columbia).

John Fraser pointed out to council that firefighting crews coming into the airport in summer and well-heeled heli-skiers in the winter have no facilities at the airport at all.

“It is not an inducement to return,” he writes.

“At a minimum, some permanent office space with power, toilets and washing facilities at the airport would attract operators,” he said, adding there should also be at least some attempt to manage parking space.

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“At a minimum, basic facilities at the airport would be more attractive to commercial operators,” he said. “Village businesses would also benefit from increased airplane arrivals that would otherwise bypass Nakusp as a destination.”

A second letter, from Ken France, reinforced those views.

He said traffic from BC Wildfire Services this summer strained resources at the airport.

“The mix of large helicopters (and associated downwash on takeoff and landing) and fixed wing aircraft, hangars, and available apron space needs to be addressed,” he said. “Previous damage to hangar roofs from helicopter operations required mitigation from 1/8BCWS 3/8 resources.

“Fortunately, we have had few interface fires in the immediate vicinity this season, which has kept traffic to a minimum, but our airport is still an important resource to 1/8BCWS 3/8.”

While its runway is pretty short, France, who owns an airplane and hangar at the airport, notes it is a valuable asset for the community, as the only airstrip in the mountainous Arrow Lakes region.

He suggested dedicating space at the airport for BCWS firefighting operations.

“With climate change and the amount of potential fuel around us, fire disaster in the near future is a very real possibility,” he writes. “Let’s give ourselves a fighting chance by having infrastructure that can support these emergency services when they are needed most.”

Council discussed the issue, and asked staff to bring a report to council advising on the points made. Staff will also look into whether the Village can charge landing fees for BCWS firefighting equipment.