A reader writes that the Victoria Airport Authority has other options to avoid getting into the land leasing business. (Black Press Media file photo)

A reader writes that the Victoria Airport Authority has other options to avoid getting into the land leasing business. (Black Press Media file photo)

LETTER: Higher user fees should fund airport authority, not land rentals

Victoria Airport Authority’s primary mandate is to run the airport, not a commercial land bank to chop up and rent to any company wanting to build, particularly cheek-by-jowl with longtime residential across the street.

The VAA and current management of the authority and airport are insensitive and incompetent when it comes to the airport operation. They tried Gateway in the face of significant local opposition, but failed to learn people on the north end of the Peninsula don’t want airport lands used for commercial activity particularly in the current footprint of the town. If it has to be on airport lands, why not Mills Road where Thrifty’s is?

Of course their basic incompetence is the $4.3 million spent to extend the taxiway with no failure modes and effects analysis of the project to avoid the issue which has reduced it to a useless piece of pavement.

Then of course, we have Sandown. Owned by North Saanich, not the federal government. Why not put the building there, where it would join other commercial operations and have easy access to the Pat Bay? Reconfiguring ramps might be necessary, but traffic would not go through residential areas and add to the current traffic on west Beacon Avenue.

If the VAA needs more cash, increase user fees. Prince Rupert has the highest fees at $46 per departing passenger; Quebec is at $35, Edmonton and Calgary $30, Toronto $25 and yet Victoria is only $15.

In 2019 YYJ moved 1.9 million passengers through and 2.1 million in 2018. If we assume 60 per cent were departing, which is what user fees are based on, a $10 higher fee would have increased revenue by $11 million in 2019 and $12.6 million in 2018.

The VAA operates YYJ on behalf of Transport Canada who owns it. The VAA are not land developers and that should be the way it stays. Airports are for the use of the passengers they serve and commercial interests who ship goods by air.

The user-pay model is the source of funding, not becoming landlords.

Alex Currie

North Saanich

developmentVictoria International Airport

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