By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Aug 9, 2013
Mike Sedon has been waiting for over twenty years to build a hanger at the Squamish airport, and his wait continues.
The district won’t allow a building permit as the airport falls under its Cheekeye Fan Terrain Hazard Policy.
The policy document, created from a provincial study of landslide hazards, restricts development of permanent buildings in the area.
Last year, however, the district lent some hope to tenants like Sedon who owns the Blacktusk Helicopter, and Colette Morin, who runs Glacier Air.
In July last year, the district said it would engage a consultant to assess whether the Cheekeye Fan Policy could be amended or waived to facilitate long-term leases.
The district also had a quid pro quo in mind: The district would aim to provide long term leases if the airport tenants would pitch in money for a water line.
Sedon said he has told the district he is willing to pitch in, but has yet to hear back from them.
District spokesperson Christina Moore said the district is waiting for the KWL study.
“Once the KWL report has been completed, then we would be in a position to address the operator’s request for long term leases,” Moore said.
“At issue is how the report will address the Cheekeye Fan Hazard Policy to mitigate the hazard to the airport.”
That brings airport operators like Colette and Sedon back to a monthly lease.
It will only create more instability in business, says Morin.
“There are four businesses that employ people in decent jobs and they get nothing but instability.” Colette Morin
Lack of a long term leases means Morin won’t be able to do any upgrades to the building.
She can’t use her existing business as collateral to get a loan, she says.
“I have hundreds of thousands tied up in buildings and equipment, but I can’t use any of that for my financial security,” she said.
“I have been here for 12 years and it’s the same promise we have been getting.”
Long term leases for the airport, tied with building permits and lack of water services, has been a long standing issue.
In the 1990s, a Seattle-based carrier planned to introduce regular service to Squamish, but the plan wasn’t approved.
An engineering firm by the name of Dayton and Knight had suggested three years ago that on-site mitigation could be done, but it could cost the district to do so.