Cannabis plant, solar farm among airport development options

By Jill Sperling
October 31, 2017 - 5:34pm

KAMLOOPS — With 36.2 hectares of land available for new developments, the Kamloops Airport is looking into a variety of new opportunities. 

"We're focusing on some of the groundside space at the airport, and the opportunities for development of some of the land space," said Heather McCarley, managing director of the Kamloops Airport. "There's one option located to the southwest of the airport, and it's in the agricultural land reserve, there's another spot that is north of the airport, and it's to the northeast, and an additional spot that we're looking at that is at the floatplane base."

McCarley presented a number of options to Kamloops City Council on behalf of the airport and its parent company Vantage Airport Group. 

Creating the most buzz were proposed developments of a solar farm or cannabis plant located in the agricultural land reserve. 

"I would love to see a combination," said Councillor Tina Lange, "where as council we could move ahead with trying to get permission from the provincial government to put a solar farm on that agricultural land, but also to zone it specifically for a cannabis manufacturing facility or growing facility."

"I think with what I've read so far, this green gold thing may be a bit of a myth," Councillor Arjun Singh said, "we may not be getting a lot of revenue from cannabis as more people get involved with it and people try to, you know make hay in the gold rush, so to speak."

Development options to the north of the airport terminal include a gas station, training campus, retail or business developments, and an airport hotel. 

"The notion of an airport hotel, albeit small, has some traction," said Mayor Ken Christian, "especially if you combine that with the Kamloops Golf and Country Club, and certainly the air tanker base and some other uses there."

A floatplane terminal with a restaurant and gas bar for boaters is one option being discussed for the area by the floatplane dock. Other options include an aviation and aerial firefighting museum or community park space. 

"This is a great opportunity for additional development at the airport, both in our landside space, and for our air revenues as well, so there are benefits to the city in terms of revenue, but in addition it will bring additional business to the airport and to the community, and I think it will be good all around," McCarley said.

"I'm excited," Christian said, "they need to go now to RFP to see if there are private sector partners that will share their excitement and want to invest in the airport."

McCarley adds plans for development are in the very early stages. 

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