By ROY WOOD
The folks working to develop the Osoyoos airport into something more than a country landing strip that doubles as a drag strip have received a boost of more than $30,000 from the town.
Responding to request from the Osoyoos Airport Development Society (OADS), council agreed today to provide $15,000 this year for a “runway extension and apron/taxiway improvement project” and $15,625 for unspecified capital works in 2020.
Both amounts are contingent on the OADS qualifying for capital funds from the province. This year’s provincial grant of $90,000 covers 75 per cent of the expansion project, with the rest split between the town and other stakeholders.
The money for 2020 is actually just earmarked in the five-year capital plan. It will have to be formally approved next year by council.
Chief administrative officer Barry Romanko told council that while it isn’t known what next year’s project will entail, the airport “is still a public asset” and the town will need to approve any developments.
With the two amounts OK’d today, the town’s contribution now totals more than $40,000 toward the effort to develop the facility. In 2018 the town kicked in $10,000 for a fencing and tie-down project.
The new council attitude represents a major turnaround from 2015, when council was seriously considering abandoning the airport altogether and turning the land into an industrial park.
Luckily for airport advocates, the town had other issues on its plate that year and simply decided to move the airport to the back burner.
The next step now is for the town, the OADS and other stakeholders to develop a governance plan for the airport. Meetings are expected to begin soon.