Squamish Airport tenants may dish out the dough for a waterline to the facility, in exchange for long-term leases.
This year, all five airport tenants’ leases are up for renewal. On Tuesday, July 18, council agreed to extend them another year, but what the businesses truly seek is a long-term commitment.
It’s an issue that’s been ongoing for years. A water main is needed to further airport development and to secure long-term leases for its businesses. But the hurdle is the district’s Cheekye Fan Terrain Hazard Policy.
The document was created from a provincial study that assessed landslide hazards from the 2.6-kilometre high, unstable slopes of Mount Garibaldi. The 1993 policy doesn’t allow permanent buildings and rezoning or subdivisions in the risk zones until area-wide mitigation occurs. This includes airport land.
Before firming up the proposal in which airport tenants would pitch in approximately $820,000 for a water main in return for long-term leases, the district needs to re-examine the Cheekye Fan hazard, said Neil Plumb, the municipality’s real estate manager.
“The water line discussion is premature before the study,” he said.
Council voted in favour of hiring Kerr Wood Leidel to undertake geotechnical analysis to determine whether the Cheekye Fan Terrain Hazard Policy could be amended or waived to facilitate long-term leases. The estimated budget for the study’s first phase is $18,000 and could climb another $30,000 if results are inconclusive, Plumb noted.
In light of the landslide at Johnsons Landing last week, which took the lives of at least two people, Coun. Doug Race said he was in favour of moving forward in this order. A 2010 Cheekye Fan hazard review, prepared by the engineering firm Dayton and Knight, suggests that the construction of an approximate $900,000 berm could protect the airport.
“The first step is to see if it is safe,” Race said.
The airport represents an economic opportunity, Coun. Ron Sander said, adding its tenants provide high-paying jobs for the community. This issue has been unresolved for too long, he added.
“There is a significant opportunity for economic growth there,” Sander said.