COURTENAY, B.C- The future of the Courtenay Airpark has a clearer path this month.
Last Tuesday, the topic of leases at the park was raised after city staff examined options for council, following their direction for a report earlier in the summer.
For the last two meetings prior to Tuesday, there had been substantial concern raised by users of the airpark about leases at the site and the lengths of time being proposed for renewal.
Staff were recommending that council direct them to offer a new long-term lease of five years, with three options for renewal of an additional five years each, along with the inclusion of the float plane dock and ramp in the new lease area.
Council previously voted to abandon a bridge crossing site at 21st Street that would have impacted the airpark, following a motion by Mayor Larry Jangula. Jangula’s second motion, which proposed a long-term lease of 20 to 40 years, did not pass the council chamber.
Councillor Doug Hillian expressed opposition to voting on the motion without a report from municipal staff.
As for the other lease holders at the site, city staff are recommending that negotiation of those leases be handled directly with the tenants in lots 1 to 4.
City council went with the staff recommendation for the lease option, after representatives of the airpark addressed the gathered members. After the meeting, Jangula indicated that he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the decision.
“They (the airpark representatives) spoke tonight, and they made it clear that there is a huge amount of economic activity and benefit to the community, and other communities,” said Jangula.
“We’re only one of two communities in Canada that has a similar type of airpark, that has facilities to land on water and land on land, and the fact that any other community that has it are looking at spending millions of dollars to get it…..the banks and lending institutions need a long term window of opportunity for loans. Five to ten-year increments may not be enough to satisfy some of these lenders.”
According to Morris Perry, the president of the Courtenay Airpark Association, council’s decision was positive.
However, he indicated the exact terms of the leases still need to be negotiated, and stated that he wanted to see the leases renewals based on the national inflation rate.