There were crowds of guests filling the new, 4200-square-foot terminal building on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 29, including a large selection of local dignitaries; people were eating cupcakes with sky-blue icing; there were several heart-felt speeches of thanks; people were encouraged to enter a draw for free flights; and toward the end of the celebration a Pacific Coastal plane landed on schedule despite a troublesome cloud ceiling. The passengers entering the terminal were applauded by the crowds within.
Trail Mayor Mike Martin spoke graciously, thanking all who had contributed to the Trail airport's success over the years, and to the construction of the new terminal building and the smooth new repaving of the runway. He also pointed out some of the new building's amenities: a "KidZone" where children can entertain themselves, a quiet business lounge, an alcove where travellers can find coffee and vending machines, and a vehicle rental desk. The waiting area is much more spacious than in the old building. Outside, a drop-off zone, and longer-term parking above.
Mayor Martin related some interesting history of air travel to and from Trail. Originally, about ninety years ago, the air strip was used by a fleet of small planes used for mineral exploration, belonging to the company that is now known as Teck Resources. At the time, that local fleet of planes outnumbered those belonging to the Canadian Air Force. The Trail air field has remained in use ever since, whether by the planes belonging to Teck's predecessor, or the local flying club, or by Northern Hawk Aviation, which was unable to continue operating here, or by Pacific Coastal, which has been providing air service between Trail and Vancouver since 2006.
Martin credited a small group of volunteers with pushing forward with their vision of improved air access: Don Nutini, Al Doherty, Neil Craig, and Brent Lee. He also thanked Trail City Council members, staff, and the airport manager for "standing behind them" and supporting their efforts. And he gratefully acknowledged the financial support from the BC Air Access Program, which provided funding of $1,180,000 toward the terminal building construction, and the federal government provided $4,600,000 toward the runway refurbishment. Columbia Basin Trust is also helping to fund the ongoing maintenance of the terminal, with a $1,000,000 interest-free loan, in recognition that the airport is a critical element of the region's economic development.
During the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation presentation to Rossland City Council on Monday, November 27, Terry Van Horn had spoken about the positive difference that the new airport terminal building is already making to the initial impression of the area on investors and potential investors arriving here by air.
Edena Brown, of local MLA Katrine Conroy's office, read out a letter of congratulations from Conroy, who is still in session in the Legislature, and one from the Minister of Transportation.
In 2011, the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary contracted with SNC-Lavalin for a Trail Regional Airport Master Plan, 2011 ─ 2031. Those with a keen interest can examine that document by clicking the link.
Many locals have a nostalgic fondness for the funkiness and informality of the old flying club building that served as our local terminal building for well over ten years, but the spacious new area should be an improvement in every other way. Now the flying club members can have their building back.
A few pictures:
Pictured below: Trail Mayor Mike Martin addressing the crowd.
This is the coffee and refreshment alcove (below):
The washroom doors feature bold new graphics:
And, for the last picture, the new, sky-blue check-in desks and a section of the waiting area: