October 31, 2013 - 8:30 AM
KAMLOOPS – While city councillors discuss the need for visual improvements along the portion of Tranquille Road leading to and from the airport, management is quietly working at improving the first impression of the city where it matters most, at the airport.
Airport managing director Fred Legace says they are helping a developer lease brand new hangars on the south side of the property to private airplane owners and are also hammering out a plan with Suncor to lease the empty property near the entrance to the airport adjacent to the company and then develop the land to bring in some new business.
He explains they are in the 'mid-days' in terms of discussions with the petroleum company but the first part of negotiations is almost complete.
“Our plan is to lease the property back to Suncor. Because of contaminations we have difficulty getting anyone to lease the land, as soon as you occupy the land you take responsibility for what's beneath it,” Legace explains. “We need to work with Suncor to get that property leased.”
The plan would then see somebody come in and sublease the property and build, which will also help provide more property taxes for the city.
“We're paying property tax on bare land that's almost worthless,” he says, “but if we start to put in small businesses, build some buildings, those attract taxes back to the city.”
This step will help both the airport continue to attract new business and the city when it comes time to give the Tranquille Gateway some 'lipstick and a hairdo' as Coun. Tina Lange put it.
Legace calls the future development of the airport 'one piece of the beautification' and notes that by bringing in a new water main they will be able to do irrigation at the airport as well, which will help make some of the drier, dead areas look more appealing.
The city has decided to form a task force, or advisory group as some councillors prefer to call it, to talk about the gateway and how the area can be beautified without the $24 million price tag identified in the preliminary plan. Coun. Nelly Dever pushed for the task force as a way to ensure the project did not get 'put back on the shelf' as it has been in previous years.
Options for beautifying the area include more distinct walking areas, banners, benches, signs and landscaping as well as a more prominent and memorable entrance to the airport to better welcome visitors to the city. Roadwork in the area will likely wait until Kinder Morgan does any work they need to do, which will probably be 10-15 years out according to Parks and Facilities Manager Jeff Putnam.
The new terminal building and runway expansion were opened in 2009 and the airport has seen a steady increase of air travellers since. More than 275,000 travellers crossed through the gates at the airport in 2012 and month over month 2013 has seen an average of just over a four per cent increase on the number of travellers.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013