Airport plan raises questions

Resident challenges the City of Vernon's concept for the airport

What’s the real cost of the Vernon Regional Airport expansion?

Taxpayers once again could be told to pay up to $7.2 to $11 million to expand the Vernon airport. Any amount of millions spent are too much. No referendum needed here.

According to a story done by a website news provider entitled, “OKIB sees airport plan,” it states that based on the economic impact analysis for various development scenarios the runway extension only offers a marginal increase in economic activity and would have a detrimental impact on surrounding neighbourhoods, particularly with regard to noise and development potential. It also states that the current runway meets the need of 97 per cent of aircraft movement.

Any expansion will be done at the cost of taxpayers and it will seal the fate of Okanagan Landing. It should raise red flags to everyone that staff has warned city council to expedite the expansion of the airport before September 2017 because Transport Canada will put in place new regulations and then this expansion would not get approval.

What are the new regulations? Do they meet safety and environmental concerns? Building codes that would have to change to accommodate the increased noise levels? There must be reasons for these changes.

Why would you fast track any project when you know there are changes coming? What are you not telling Vernon residents? That’s no master plan.

There is also no information on the environmental impact on our community by having larger and more frequent aircraft using the airport. Aircraft exhaust carries a variety of pollutants. This expansion will  dump more of these toxins on all of us.

Just think of what impact this will make to the Okanagan Landing residents enjoying our lakefront lots and properties. It is also important to consider what building height restrictions that will change the area as a whole. It will be a tough sale for the future of property values in this area.

To add to these considerations, the current noise level has still not been addressed. There is a boat plane that is so loud that if you are talking to someone a few feet away in your yard, they cannot hear you until the plane has gone.

I was told that if Transport Canada approves a plane for any airport, there is nothing the Vernon Airport can do. There are no noise devices in place now to regulate noise levels to even identify planes that may be breaking noise bylaw. So naturally nail the taxpayers and bring in more noise and pollutants.

Every expansion at the airport at the airport does affect your property values as told to me recently by a bank appraiser, it goes down. So how much more will we lose on our properties?

If the City of Vernon has millions to spend on asphalt why not properly pave city roads and repaint road lines? Bench Row Road is one of the main roads, for example, that is so poorly maintained, it is like driving on an old wagon trail. It is also a popular road for Landing residents for a quick access to the Kelowna  highway. The last expansion done at the airport did not bring in any great wealth to Vernon and two flight companies have already left.

Do not fast track any airport expansion at the expense and health of others. Contact your city councillors and MP and demand answers on what are the new regulations and environmental impact on us as well as the possible decline of future development and property value in the area. Why are they pushing this project through before the proper regulations have come into place? What don’t we know? This will affect future development and what can be built in this area. Expect more from the City of Vernon for this beautiful area.

Janice Gibbs

Vernon