A strategy for the development of the Chilliwack airport is expected to be unveiled in the next few weeks, John Jansen, president of the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation, said Wednesday.
He said the strategy will give CEPCO, City officials and airport managers “some general guidelines on how to position the airport” – such as possible use as a training facility – and the steps needed to achieve goals recommended by a consultant.
Jansen said the report should also set out any “weaknesses” found by the consultant in the airport’s infrastructure, such as whether a longer runway is needed for the facility to reach its maximum potential.
“The airport is an important part of our economy,” he said.
CEPCO received $10,650 from a federal government program aimed at attracting foreign investment to develop the aviation strategy, Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl announced in a news release last week.
“We want the world to know, our local communities provide great business opportunities to international investors,” Strahl said.
The Invest Canada-Communities Initiatives program supports non-profit and public-private partnerships at the local community level.
Unlike other municipal airports in the Lower Mainland, the Chilliwack airport is a public-private-partnership.
Back in 1997, the city signed a 50-year P3 agreement giving operating rights at the airport to Magnum Management Inc. The agreement relieves taxpayers of the financial risk, and the city the burden of day-to-day operations.
But last April “frustrations” with the airport’s commercial development surfaced, and CEPCO issued the request for proposals to develop an “industry attraction” strategy.
Because airspace is crowded around airfields in Vancouver, Boundary Bay and Pitt Meadows, the Chilliwack airport is being eyed as “the next place to go” by training schools in fixed-wing and helicopter flight.