Noise complaints regarding Okanagan Skydive are not an issue, city council said as they met Monday.
Bret Chalmers, owner and operator of Okanagan Skydive spoke before council about his company’s economic benefits and efforts to reduce noise.
“All of the neighbours I’ve talked to love the sounds of parachutes flapping,” said Coun. Scott Anderson, who lives in the area. Anderson added that he has no issue with the noise generated by the planes.
However, residents of the area have complained in the past about noise from Okanagan Skydive.
“About half of these complaints come on days we aren’t flying,” Chalmers said, adding that his company often takes the blame for noise from other planes.
But Okanagan Skydive is taking measures to reduce the noise generated by climbing air-crafts, which are louder than cruising air-crafts.
“Think of a large truck climbing a hill versus a small car cruising on the highway,” Chalmers said. “Yes, our airplanes do make noise, but according to Transport Canada, it is an acceptable level.”
Okanagan Skydive has newer, larger air-crafts that generate less noise and carry more people, but they are not used in all scenarios.
“This is great. However, it’s not feasible on all days,” Chalmers said, adding that their primary concern is safety.
“By far, safety is our number one concern. We want to be able to achieve a safe landing area in the event of a loss of engine power. If we are too far away and we have an engine problem, we could be in a vulnerable position.”
To accommodate this, Chalmers said, they must take off at an airport and be within gliding distance of a runway.
Okanagan Skydive also benefits the community economically, Chalmers said.
“Adventure travel is becoming one of the most popular travel trends of the 21st century,” Chalmers said, adding that skydivers from across the globe come to Vernon for the experience.
“We’re able to showcase Vernon like nobody else. We keep doing this because we love it. We love the people, and we love to fly.”“
Coun. Juliette Cunningham agrees.
“I think tourism has changed a bit,” Cunningham said. “People are looking for activities, it’s more active tourism. Any of these activities that can attract people from all over the world (are positive).”