Opinion: Airport still holds dreams

In the heady days following the end of the Second World War, air transport was seen as the way of the future for Chilliwack.

Seventy years ago Chilliwack residents overwhelmingly agreed to allow the city and municipality to borrow $40,000 for the purchase of land and construction of a new airport.

Turnout for the referendum was light (due, some said, to the August growing season). However, 70 per cent of the voters who cast their ballots supported the plan.

The argument for construction was primarily economic: Just as cities of the past thrived on seaports and rail stations, cities of the future would depend on airports.

In the heady days following the end of the Second World War, air transport was seen as the way of the future. Tourism, and Chilliwack’s agricultural sector in particular, would benefit from the aviation developments that had occurred over the course of the war.

There was debate. The airport would occupy prime farm land, and the purchase would put the municipalities into debt.

However, led by groups like the Chilliwack Board of Trade and the Chilliwack Flying Club, it was argued Chilliwack would miss a great opportunity if it didn’t take advantage of the post-war enthusiasm for air travel.

“I submit the question is not can Chilliwack afford an airport,” flying club president Murdoch Maclachlan told the board of trade in 1945. “The question is can we afford not to have one.”

Today, the argument for the airport remains economic. And while the earlier dream of using air transport to move Chilliwack’s agricultural produce seems fanciful, the importance of the facility to the region’s future remains strong.

According to the city’s economic development arm, CEPCO, “The City of Chilliwack is committed to developing the aerospace and aviation industry in our community.  Efforts have been initiated to attract new businesses and help the city’s existing aerospace/aviation businesses grow, expand, and diversify.”

There have been frustrations in pursuit of that goal. But certainly one of the bright spots has been the arrival of aerobatic pilot Dave Mathieson and his “Super Dave” team. Not only has he brought attention to the local air industry, he’s brought investment.

But he’s also generated complaints. And this week it was learned those complaints may force him to move elsewhere.

Reaction has been fierce. And while some say they’d be happy to see him go, others are angered by the arbitrary and seemingly obfuscated way a decision was reached. (Transport Canada would not respond, citing privacy reasons.)

True, airports present challenges. But as residents here recognized 70 years ago, they also hold tremendous promise.

It would be a shame if we lost sight of that.

Just Posted

RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Doses prepared at pop-up vaccine clinic in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, in the M3N postal code, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. ( THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston)
4 vaccine clinics coming to Neighbourhood Learning Centre

Fraser Health made clinics ‘low-barrier’ meaning pre-registration not required

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Agassiz toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Most Read