Big picture getting buried

Critics opposing the regional district's proposal to extend the runway at the Alberni Valley airport are missing the bigger picture.

Critics opposing the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s proposal to extend the runway at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport are missing the bigger picture.

The airport is already a part of our community’s taxpayer-funded infrastructure.

If the runway extension were approved, there are myriad other businesses—in addition to the one already wanting to expand at the airport—that could do business at the site.

Airports are not just for passenger service. Air cargo is a big business; could it be an option under the right circumstances?

What about aircraft mechanics?

Rather than criticizing past ‘build it and they will come’ strategy, we should be looking at who else we can entice to establish a business at the airport to potentially off-set the $16 per year the average homeowner would have to pay if the runway extension, lighting and GPS system go ahead but government grants fall through.

What about something completely different? An industrial park? How about RV parking or even a campground? No public transit to connect to the city? An enterprising entrepreneur solved that problem in the Comox Valley by starting his own airport shuttle business. Someone could do the same here.

A final thought: if the runway were expanded and if Coulson Aviation were to move its C-130 conversion business to the regional airport, how big a stretch would it be to envision a land-based aerial firefighting operation?

We already have the 20-person ground-attack Thunderbirds, one of two fire crews in the mid-Island, based at the airport.

Not so big a stretch at all, if you’re willing to think outside the box.

— Alberni Valley News