Letter: Airport improvements will be costly

Kelowna letter-writer says improvements to the Kelowna airport will have to come from the city

To the editor:

Re: Airport in need of complete overhaul, Kelowna Capital News Feb. 21, 2018

Mr. Kozar has made many valid points regarding shortcomings of the current airport terminal building but the resolution is not as simple as airport management considering a whole new building. This is a municipally owned facility and the impetus must originate with our city council who have to come up with the necessary (taxpayer) dollars to pay for it. The shortcomings outlined have almost certainly been brought to the attention of council by the airport management.

When major Canadian airports were owned and operated by the Federal Government, the situation was completely different. Politicians (in negotiation with the Minister of Transport) would decide when a new terminal building or a completely new airport was required and construction would proceed with funding from the Canadian taxpayer.

When Calgary needed a new terminal building the Federal Government, still smarting from criticism over the barely functional and unattractive Toronto Terminal 2 as it was referred to at the time, practically wrote a blank cheque for the Calgary project. During the four years I was employed on that project team, the terminal building was relocated from the southwest to undeveloped land at the northeast portion of the field.

No costs were spared in hiring a leading architectural firm to design a beautiful functional building, and to create the necessary infrastructure such as taxiways, aprons, hydrant refueling systems, water, sewer, electrical, and natural gas services, cargo facilities, improved access roadways, a multi level parking structure, space for a hotel adjacent to the terminal building, etc.

Unfortunately, Kelowna does not have the financial resources readily available as did the Government of Canada. Perhaps the answer is to privatize operation of Kelowna International Airport under a long term lease and let the new management look after improvements as has happened at several other larger Canadian airports. That is not be a cheap alternative however.

Fred B. Woodward, Kelowna

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