Town council future plans for the Golden Municipal Airport will move forward with adoption of a strategic and tactical plan on Tuesday, March 16.
The plan was adopted in principle and was carried unanimously at the council meeting.
The plan, which was was initially presented on March 2 by HM Aero Aviation Consulting, outlines a 10-year action plan for the airport’s future.
Council voted unanimously in favour of continuing to operate the airport on Oct. 20, 2020.
The airport will continue to operate as an aerodrome as outlined under Transport Canada guidelines, as it does not meet the certified airport status set out by the federal government agency.
“The viability investigation of our airport is a council strategic priority for this term of office,” said Golden Mayor Ron Oszust.
“As a council, we are pleased to see the project moving forward and recognize the important role of the Golden airport from both community social benefits to regional economic development opportunities.”
The plan builds on the analysis and findings of the Airport Assessment and Business Case which was presented to town council in October by HM Aero.
The plan includes a new model of governance which provides an opportunity for involvement by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
SRD, aviation stakeholders, key regional entities and public members at large, as well as a strategy for the continued involvement of the regional district funding the airport’s operation.
A strategy has been developed for maintenance to the airport that balances operational needs with other needs within Golden.
The plan also includes a comprehensive strategy for implementing the recommendations related to the preceding objectives and monitoring progress.
The full plan can be viewed online on the town website.
“This is one of the most fulsome and rewarding operations analysis based initiatives we have undertaken in recent history,” explained Golden chief administrative officer Jon Wilsgard.
“We now have a practical and realistic plan moving forward over the next 10 years that will help bring the facility up to a standard of improvement and operations that should encourage and producer higher traffic, revenues and overall activity.”
The town is prepared to implement a majority of the proposed 2021 action items this year, including improving signage, implement lease rate revisions, decommissioning Taxiway C, starting the airport tree removal program and redesigning the airport webpage.
This would maintain the status quo for current airport operations.
The process has been ongoing for almost a year, with a study launched last April, with the underlying purpose being to gain a better understanding of the airport’s ongoing financial feasibility.
Through engagement with the community and local stakeholders, the study found the airport supplemented Golden and District Search and Rescue, wildfire suppression and air ambulance services, and gives operational flexibility to several community organizations.
The study revealed the airport also helps supplement Golden’s adventure tourism economy, allowing access to back country lodges, noting Golden had one of the highest density of backcountry lodges in Canada.
The airport also facilitates heli-sking, alpine biking and skydiving.
The initial report in October estimated it would take about $300,000 a year over about 16 years to maintain the status quo of the airport, including repairing runways, updating the plumbing and sewer system and completing several other updates that would be needed to remain operational.