The Town of Osoyoos is grounding its plans to remove the Osoyoos Airport runway and convert the property to an industrial park.

Osoyoos Council Monday voted to abandon a study looking at the re-purposing of the airstrip to industrial lands and instead look for grant opportunities to upgrade the runway.

“We’ve decided to back off on that issue of getting a study done to see what would be best,” explained Mayor Sue McKortoff.

“We decided we would take the industrial park off the table and we would look at applying for grants that might enhance the airport strip.”

Coincidentally, the Province last week announced it was inviting smaller and regional airports in B.C. to apply for $10 million in airport infrastructure funding through the 2017-18 B.C. Air Access Program.

Through the program, the ministry shares costs with public airports on projects such as lighting and navigational systems, terminal building expansion or upgrades, and runway improvements.

Mayor McKortoff said the Town is aware of the provincial funding and sees a benefit in exploring the grant potential.

“If we want more people to land there with small planes, that could be looked at — enhancing (the airport) a little bit.”

Those enhancements, she said, include adding aircraft tie-downs, lighting, fencing and providing for additional maintenance for the airstrip.

“We’re not wanting to say that this is going to expand into a full fledged airport . . . but we definitely have lots of planes that land there.”

Glen Harris, who works with both the Osoyoos Airport Development Society and the Airport Steering Committee welcomed Monday’s announcement.

“This is great news and I along with my colleagues in both groups, look forward to continuing to work with the Town to open up the operations on the existing airstrip and to pursue the future expansion of the strip to a length of approx. 4,000 ft.” he said.

“I believe that they also realized, as we do on both committees, that if they gave up this lands and re-purposed them, that the Town would never have the opportunity to pursue air access again – which would be a great loss.”

The Town had developed seven industrial lots for the property — six of which have sold. However, Mayor McKortoff said development on the lots would not interfere with the airstrip’s operation.

“The airstrip certainly can be used even if there are buildings beside it,” she said.

The province suggests its grant funding would “allow airports to improve safety, accommodate larger aircraft, support more frequent flights and enable the continued growth of local and provincial economies.”

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