January 15, 2015 - 3:47 PM
KELOWNA - Questions about the impact of collapsing oil prices are starting to filter into Kelowna’s civic operations as the possibility of an extended downturn in fuel costs becomes apparent. Several councillors queried city staff during presentations at 2015 budget deliberations about the topic that has recently been dominating headlines in Western Canada.
The first question asked of Ron Westlake, director of regional operations, was the impact of cheaper fuel on fleet operations at Kelowna Transit. Westlake told councillors that B.C. Transit’s budget for Kelowna was received in early October before the scope of the price change became apparent.
“Certainly fuel prices have changed but some have locked themselves into longer-term diesel fuel futures,” said Westlake.
Airport manager Sam Samadar was asked if record-setting passenger numbers set this year and projected for next, will stand up under the impact of widespread layoffs in the oil patch.
Passenger loads reached 1.6 million (in 2014), a full year earlier than projected, said Samadar, and are projected to grow by two per cent (in 2015).
“We are not soley reliant on the oil sector,” Samadar said. “Two per cent is a good conservative estimate."
Mayor Colin Basran said it was his understanding that all department heads are considering, at least unofficially, the impact of changes in the oilpatch.
"It's not necessarily all good news," he added. "We may save on fuel but what about the 5,000 workers in that sector who live in the Okanagan. What is the impact of layoffs and reduced spending? It's a double-edged sword."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015