By Alex Rinfret-The Masset airport is going to be a very busy place this summer, especially on Monday and Friday mornings, and that’s got some fishing lodge owners and other airport users concerned.
Representatives from Pacific Coastal Airlines, Vancouver Island Helicopters, Naden Lodge and West Coast Fishing Club all appeared at Monday night’s council meeting (April 24) to voice concerns about the village’s decision to allow Queen Charlotte Lodge to use the airport Monday and Friday mornings this fishing season.
The airport is already well used on these mornings, with Pacific Coastal landing its daily flight from Vancouver at 10:30 am and West Coast Fishing Club bringing up clients on a flight which lands at 9:15 am. Fishing lodge clients get off planes at the airport and then board helicopters to get to the lodges, so the airport can get very busy during these “changeover” times.
Now, it appears that Queen Charlotte Lodge will be landing clients Mondays and Fridays at 8 am and 8:45 am, leading to concerns about the number of passengers who will be going through the small airport on these mornings.
“This is flawed, this is absolute stupidity,” West Coast Fishing Club owner Rick Grange said. “We’re trying to impress people. We charge a lot for this serviceÂ… It’s not a stage set for the Trailer Park Boys and that’s what it’s going to come across as.”
Masset administrator Trevor Jarvis said he made the decision to allow Queen Charlotte Lodge to changeover on Monday and Friday mornings after the lodge came up with a plan which was reviewed with airport users and approved by Transport Canada. Queen Charlotte Lodge has been using the Masset airport for many years, but previously landed its clients Monday and Friday afternoons.
The time switch did require a change in the airport’s “apron management plan”. The revised plan was submitted to Transport Canada and that agency approved it last week, Mr. Jarvis told council members Monday night.
Queen Charlotte Lodge plans to use Darin Swanson’s building for its clients, Mr. Jarvis said, so the terminal won’t be overflowing. Some details still need to be worked out before the lodge brings in its first plane load of clients in early June, he added.
Council was not involved in this particular decision, he said, although council does have the power to approve or reverse decisions regarding the village’s airport.
Mayor Barry Pages was in Prince Rupert and not able to attend the council meeting, but most council members said they aren’t concerned about the switch, especially in light of the fact that it has been approved by Transport Canada.
Councillor Marlene Liddle said it’s good that the airport is busy, and pointed out that Masset is already planning to expand the terminal within the next couple of years.
But concerns remained for councillor Brent Buell.
“Realistically, there are going to be a whack of people out there,” he said. “It does seem a little bit oddÂ… I don’t get it.”
Mr. Jarvis said he will be keeping a close eye on the situation throughout the summer.
“We’re going to monitor this and if it needs to be changed or halted, it will be,” he said.
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