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Servicing the Airport Lands

It probably sounded like a good idea back in the middle years of the 2000’s decade.You can imagine the thinking, “If we get some good sized lots suitable for parking, Walmart or CostCo will come and set up shop there, the residents will be happy and we’ll be able to get some tax revenue off that otherwise useless land surrounding the airport.”

Water + Sewer = Development

Unfortunately now, this kind of thinking looks like a bad joke, and the residents of Castlegar are being asked to fund developments such as the airport and the gaming centre, for water and sewer to the tune of over 4 million dollars.

Now, I know that the water supply isn’t great out there and the septic systems can’t be doing anything good for the groundwater, but spending millions of dollars of water and sewer utility funds on this property seems wasteful, particularly considering the $66 million dollars of water capital recently identified in the Urban Systems report presented to council.

Sustainability

[ad#200-left]The City went to the trouble of engaging some public discussion on the future of Castlegar and what a “Sustainable Castlegar” would look like. There was a clear concensus around a table I participated at, that the Airport Lands should not be developed, as this would just perpetuate the sprawling nature of Castlegar.

There were some smart people sitting around that table, but it appears that Council is not on the same wavelength. In last week’s council package, the City’s water and sewer rates for 2010 were detailed, and capital works are identified, including the servicing of the Airport Lands. The OCP process has been pretty drawn out with the community input thus far being focused only on sustainability and not truly “land use”, yet the community has not been engaged on any of the major decisions surrounding land use over at the airport. Despite this, council insists that utilities will be provided at the City’s cost to the parcels over there.

I just think it is the wrong time to be chasing this pipe-dream. The other levels of government didn’t see it as a project to fund with grant money in 2010, not saying the wouldn’t in the future, but the practicalities of losing 30% of the municipal revenues should inform the type of projects that are on the list of priorities. Focus on those projects that support the majority of residents and businesses in town, or are critical due to the possibility of systems failure.

This is my opinion as a tax payer in Castlegar, I’m not enamored to the gaming center or the possibility of a big box store, and I’d hope that for a lot less money, suitable water conservation techniques and modified septic systems could be installed as an alternative to multi-million dollar pipelines.

Your thoughts?

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

2 thoughts on “Servicing the Airport Lands

  1. I have a few  'ideals'  / thoughts I'd like to share regarding the airport land. How about truly and deeply requesting the input of the people who live in the surrounding community ? Finding out what they envision there. .. what they would be proud of  ….what could and would we honor ?..what would be useful  and consider the environment ?…what would kids and families feel would work there.? How about going out there to the land with various groups of people and doing a study of this engagement ? Studies show that studies show. Castlegar is beautifully situated and I think its breathtaking beauty and its 'site ' are rather downplayed.  The gaming centre is a recipe for disaster if you ask me . Creating something there that we , the people , decide we truly need , value and find beneficial , I think , would be the right thing to do.

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