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RDEK Providing Financial Assistance to Columbia Valley Airport Society

The Regional District of East Kootenay is supporting the Fairmont Hot Springs Airport, providing $60,000 in 2020 and 2021 to aid the facility in its operations.

Operated by the Columbia Valley Airport Society, the RDEK Board approved $60,000 worth of support in interim funding, pending a long list of conditions.

Seeing as the Columbia Valley Airport Society is made up of three board members, who all work or have connections to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, the RDEK did their due diligence.

“Legally, we can’t provide funding to benefit a business, so because the board isn’t structured in such a way that it is at arm’s length of the resort, we couldn’t just offer funding,” said Clovechok.

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Attached to the funding are seven conditions that must be met by the Airport Society.

  1. An Annual General Meeting be held with audited 2019 financials;
  2. Directors and Officers liability insurance be purchased;
  3. Election of a new Board and Officers that represent the Columbia Valley geographically;
  4. Development of a skills matrix to recruit qualified board members to assure proper oversight of the Society;
  5. Registration of updated bylaws, including bylaws that prevent any single entity, business, corporation, or not for project organization from holding a majority of the votes on the Society Board;
  6. Fully costed business plan be prepared; and
  7. An operations/procedures review and work plan to support the business plan be prepared;
(Supplied by Fairmont Hot Springs Airport)

“We need to make sure that there’s a good solid operational plan moving forward and a business plan and an asset assessment to make sure that it is viable and it is sustainable,” Clovechok told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “My expectation over the next couple of years is they will become more self-sufficient, more sustainable on their own without $60,000, without as much public funding.”

Clovechok said the Provincial and Federal Governments will continue to provide funding support through capital projects, but they hope that the $60,000 in 2020 and 2021 will be able to lift the Fairmont Hot Springs Airport to new heights.

The RDEK felt the need to give the financial boost because of the airport’s importance to the BC Wildfire Service and for potential medical evacuations.

“It’s strategic in their planning for the Southeast Fire Centre,” said Clovechok. “It’s important to that because they can land bigger planes, bigger fixed-wing planes, they’ve got the room and the capacity to refuel there without the added complication of commercial flights that you’d have in Cranbrook, so they can do what they need to do and get it done there.”

Clovechok noted that medical evacuations out of Fairmont Hot Springs Airport would also save an hour of travel time within B.C. rather than if a flight left from Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook.

“We see it as a public safety issue and that’s really why we’re wanting to find a way to help the Columbia Valley Airport Society sustain that facility.”

(Supplied by Fairmont Hot Springs Airport)

The funding from the RDEK was necessary after Fairmont Hot Springs Resort (FHSR) notified that they would not be able to continue providing operational funding to support the airport. Since 1986, FHSR provided annual operating funds to the airport with $180,000 in funds in 2019 alone.

MP Rob Morrison, MLA Doug Clovechok, the BC Wildfire Service, Columbia Valley RCMP, Interior Health and many other local community groups in organizations sent letters to the RDEK voicing their support for the continued operation of the Fairmont Hot Springs Airport.

RDEK unanimously approved the $60,000 of financial support given the seven conditions are abided to by the Columbia Valley Airport Society.

More: Columbia Valley Airport Society Funding Request (RDEK)

More: Columbia Valley Airport Society Letters of Support (RDEK)

Aerial view of the Fairmont Hot Springs Airport. (Supplied by Fairmont Hot Springs Airport)
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