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Councillors call for patience with Pemberton Airport

Mayor confirms airport committee will be expanded

Amid reports that Whistler stakeholders might be taking a renewed look at building their own airport in the Callaghan Valley, Pemberton council Tuesday called for more patience as they work towards a plan for the future of their airport.

After more than a year of persistent political and community interest in the airport, a councillor and one other airport stakeholder confirmed prior to this week’s council meeting that there would be an announcement on the airport. But the meeting nearly ended without council addressing the issue.

In her final statement of the night Mayor Elinor Warner said: "Councillor Beauregard was going to announce that we will be enlarging our airport committee to include members of the community, but she’s ill and not here so that’s why."

Warner also said prior to the council meeting that she had seen a report on the Callaghan Valley’s airport potential in the early 1980s when it was first distributed.

"I don’t know if it (the Callaghan airport) has the same obstacles as Pemberton to fly in and out, but the report I’ve seen said that the Callaghan Valley did have the space for an airport," she said.

Despite the ramifications that an airport in the Callaghan would have on Pemberton, Warner indicated that she was not concerned with Whistler exploring the issue.

"When you look at space for our airport; airports really don’t take up that much space, so it’ll be interesting to see how Whistler goes ahead. They’ve just brought up the old report so we’ll see where they go with it."

Councillor Richard Doucet also addressed the airport at the council meeting. He offered reassurance that "there will be news on the (Pemberton) airport."

"You know we’re working on the airport," said Doucet. "There’s studies being done. The airport’s a big issue and it doesn’t happen over night.

"The answers aren’t going to be there for next week’s paper," he said. "So it’s a long-term project where proponents have come to the airport, and there’s been three different groups and they all have different attributes. They also have different requirements, and the airport is what it is today and the requirements are mega-projects.

"At this point in time we’re still in the study phases. We’re working on it, it’s not like we’re not working on it, it’s just at this point in time we don’t have anything to say."

Councillor Linda Chandler also reassured the public that council was endeavouring to find a solution for the Pemberton Airport.

"We’re trying to get as much information as we can to make well informed decisions that will ultimately have to go back to the community," said Chandler.