By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 21, 2012
Colette Morin hopes 2012 will grant what has remained elusive for the past ten years at the airport: Stability.
And stability in her business is her closely tied to a long-term lease at the Squamish Airport.
Glacier Air, she says, hasn’t flourished as much as it should because of the short-term leases granted by the district.
“I can’t get a mortgage, I can’t get a building permit, and I can’t expand my business because of short leases,” Morin said.
It’s what led Blackcomb Aviation to shift some of its operations to Pemberton, where the owner has rumoured to have spent $1 million, and hired 14 people.
He could not be reached for comment, but for airport operators, his move underscores the need for urgency on the matter of airport expansion.
Speaking for the Squamish Flying Club, John Hurford said the club supports long-term leases.
“For the flying club, it allows us to finance projects. With financing, we can continue to build things like dry aircraft storage for our existing aircraft,” Hurford said.
Good storage adds to safer flying and to the life of the aircraft,” he added.
Adopted by the council in 1993, it prohibits building permits, subdivisions and rezoning at the Airport, all of which are required to facilitate long‐term leases.
This July, as leases for operators like Glacier Air expire, a new, give-some, take-some, policy is shaping up.
Existing airport tenants will partly or wholly pay for a pipeline in return for long-term leases.
To facilitate that, the district has engaged KWL to see what analysis could be done to determine whether the Cheekeye Fan Policy could be amended or waived to facilitate long-term leases.
KWL proposes a two-phased process.
The first manual assessment, to be done at the cost of $18,000, will provide conclusive insights.
If the manual analysis is not conclusive, additional computer modeling will be required and the cost could increase to $30,000.
That is what should have happened long time ago, Morin says.
The long-term leases, for at least 25 years, would help her expand her business, hire more people, and bring more stability to her business.
Now, a plane has to go all the way to Chilliwack for repairs.
Once she is guaranteed a long-term lease, she can easily expand for a workshop here, build a hangar and rent out the space.
“This place could expand, we can hire people,” she said.