A plan that could see as much as $259 million spend to improve and expand Kelowna’s airport over the next 29 years has received approval from city council.
“YLW is an important asset for the City of Kelowna and the entire Okanagan Valley,” said airport director, Sam Samaddar. “We need to plan ahead to ensure the future of YLW for upcoming generations.”
On Monday, council approved a new master plan for YLW, one that predicts as many 3.5 million passengers will use it by 2045, a longer runway will be needed to handle bigger aircraft coming from, and heading to, Europe, expanded airside facilities will be required and an addition to the south end of the existing airport terminal will be needed for a new domestic departures and arrivals area.
Road access to the airport and additional parking are also called for in the plan, including a new intersection at Highway 97 and Airport Way, said airport director Sam Samaddar.
The airport currently handles 1.6 million passengers per year, making it the 11th busiest airport in the country.
Samaddar said the improvements called for in the new master plan would be paid for by the fees and charges airlines and other commercial users pay as well as by the existing airport improvement fee that passengers pay. That fee is currently $15 per ticket for outbound flights.
The improvement’s to the airport would be phased in as needed and would include a new taxi way on the east side of the runway, the new domestic arrivals and departures area to be built onto the south end of the existing terminal, additional apron parking for six more aircraft and a reconfiguration of the north end of the terminal, which would be used for international arrivals and departures only.
The airport is currently building a new baggage handling facility.
The master plan also says additional land will be needed for expansion and wants land it already owns, but is in the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve, taken out of the ALR.
The airport owns the adjacent Shadow Ridge Golf Course, which it bought with the intention of using for future expansion.
Nine priorities were identified through public consultations to develop the master plan:
• More direct flights and flights overseas
• Greater parking, shuttle and accessibility
•Additional public transit to and from YLW
• Outdoor signage and lighting enhancements
• Improved arrivals area and expanded baggage carousels
• Enhanced community green space and noise protection
• Greater food and beverage choices inside the terminal
• Faster security screening
• Low service fees.