Vanderhoof Municipal Office. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

Vanderhoof Airport Development society wants an aerodrome on the Nechako River

Since the DOV decommissioned the municipal dock, VADS and the district have been in a never-ending feud

The Vanderhoof Airport Development Society is disgruntled with the mayor and council over them de-commissioning the water aerodrome.

VADS made a request to council to re-register private docks with Transport Canada. District staff recommended that the water aerodrome remain decommissioned and further that the council support VADS application for a new water aerodrome registration operated off municipal property.

These discussion took place during the Sept. 9 regular meeting of council, where some heated conversation took place between Paul Collard, president of VADS and council.

Some background

Council resolved to decommission the water aerodrome on municipal property at a March 25, 2019 In-camera meeting. This resolution was released to the public during the June 2019 regular council meeting. At this time, the water aerodrome has been decommissioned and the dock has been disposed off.

What is VADS looking for?

The airport development society essentially wants to have an aerodrome on the Nechako river so that planes flying over Vanderhoof, going north or south can stop in the district, have a proper place to dock their planes and have the benefit of easy access to the downtown core, said Collard.

After the district decommissioned the aerodrome, VADS decided they would get private docks registered with Transport Canada and to do so, they surveyed 62 properties on View Street where private docks are located, to understand if any residents had issues with it.

Collard said no resident objected.

The district had decommissioned the municipal dock on the Nechako River citing liability concerns.

Fast forward to the Sept. 9 regular council meeting, where VADS requested that the water aerodrome be registered for these new sites. However when requesting to council, they made an error of writing that they were requesting the aerodrome be registered at the previous municipal site which was de-commissioned.

Still following along?

Well, it gets more confusing.

So during the council meeting, Collard took the liberty to explain to council what VADS was looking to do. They provided mayor and council with maps and information about the location of the private docks and communicated that the dock will be on private property and all that VADS is looking for is approval from the council to operate the dock off municipal property.

“The approval from DOV is really a courtesy,” said Collard, adding, “Without a listing in the Water Aerodrome Supplement, issued by Transport Canada for reference for float planes, Vanderhoof is very unlikely to receive visitors transiting our area. It is like a hotel listing. This is an excellent location for stopovers flying N or S, with access to Hotels, restaurants, fuel, all within walking distance of the docks.”

“Local service facilities for aircraft are also within a couple of K. This amenity has never been promoted before, and with the advent of social media, it should be possible at little cost, to attract transiting and training aircraft.”

“The cost to maintain a water aerodrome is visually zero. Benefits could be significant to a local economy seeking diversification and loss of traditional income,” he said.

The DOV did not reject the application from VADS but deferred it until they have more information, Collard said. He said the district has destroyed the windsock and the pole required to support it that was located on the old dock site, he said, noting “it was a very thorough and emphatic removal of the DOV from the use of the water aerodrome.”

The district has no liability if the facility is on private docks and there is no cost to the district for operating it, Collard said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Thiessen said the request requires council to understand the impact and responsibilities to the residents of Vanderhoof.

“We look forward to reviewing a copy of the application as well as the location details as council will then give consideration to the request,” he said.

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