Blundell has heard enough about Callaghan airport 

Why reinvent the wheel, or the runway, Pemberton councillor asks

Acting Pemberton mayor Mark Blundell has heard enough about Whistler’s dreams of an airport in the Callaghan valley area.

"Quite honestly I think after hearing all the reports coming out on Global TV, on the radio with the (Whistler) mayor and Councillor Davies… I know that they might be proponents of an airport in the Callaghan but I think there is a far better option in Pemberton," said Blundell.

"Those guys in Whistler are whining… about their economy and there being no growth, well maybe the answer is our airport and we as community leaders need to address this and sit down in a meaningful way.

"The more people we have involved in the financing the better, so we need to get the Whistler council to sit down with us… You’ve got the Olympics coming… everybody needs to put their heads together.

"And I’m not opposed to making that an international airport and for people from other areas getting involved from outside Pemberton – I have no problem with that. Because quite honestly you’ve got this airport already there and it’s ready to go. Why reinvent the wheel?"

Blundell, who is known for his plain speaking mannerisms, is plainly frustrated by what he sees as an arrogant approach by Whistler council. Pemberton has been struggling with a growing community and a raft of airport proposals and Blundell indicated it has asked for help from everyone, including the Whistler council when the councils were first elected in November of 2002.

But the Resort Municipality of Whistler appears to be pursuing its own airport in the Callaghan.

"We’ve sat down with Intrawest and heard some proposals. We’ve sat down with Westjet, we’ve had meetings with YVR. We’ve had reports, we’ve had two consultants working on this project and all of these things have come up," said Blundell.

"Can we meet to get public, political, provincial, federal, municipal, Whistler and corporate input? Why don’t they talk to us and say ‘we understand you have a valuable asset. Is there something we can do to make that asset work for the communities?’"

At Tuesday’s council meeting Blundell, as acting mayor, put forward a motion to formally request a meeting between Whistler and Pemberton councils to discuss the Pemberton airport.

In the past year delegations from a variety of organizations have approached Pemberton council about the airport without a significant result.

The crux of this situation is that the Pemberton has very little money to work with.

"Nobody thinks Pemberton’s got the moxy to pull off this airport – well we do, but we just don’t have any money," said Blundell.

Since the airport was opened in 1978 more than $7 million has been invested in the facility. Pemberton wants to maintain direct control over the airport so it can capitalize on that investment.

The Village of Pemberton does have a lease agreement with Prime Air, which is a fixed based operator, but this agreement does not stop any other companies from negotiating with the village and building their own facilities.

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