On Monday, Feb. 11, the County of Lethbridge and City of Lethbridge councils met to hear a consultant's report on the potential of increased passenger traffic, commerce, residential and industrial activity at the airport.
After a lengthy presentation it was made quite clear that they do not recommend a strategy of "build it and they will come." It took only one question to the city manager from Ald. Joe Mauro to realize that expansion options to the south of the city are severely compromised by a lack of sewer capacity in that area. It will take tens of millions of dollars and decades to remedy this shortfall.
It was also stated that discussions with investment companies specializing in airport modernization considered the commercial market in Lethbridge to be saturated, i.e. not currently an investment that would be without great risk and little reward for private industry. It also seemed to lack an awareness of current city plans for residential growth on the north and west sides, extensive plans for commercial development on the west side of the city and our ongoing expansion of industrial capacity in the northeast. Here I felt that Economic Development Lethbridge could have done a better job in describing the entire city picture.
The next step in determining the viability of this regional asset was deferred by the majority present by voting to continue to subsidize operating costs over the next couple of years. Here I was very disappointed that the consultants were not directed to explore ways to reduce the operational footprint of this facility until such time as expansion is economically viable.
What needs to be done now? Reduce the length of the current runways and defer capital improvements to the terminal until such time as increased traffic warrants added capacity are just two easy fixes to the current problems. How about considering this problem from a regional, rather than an exclusive city/county problem?
While the next $500,000 is now committed, let's not forget the earlier aborted consultant's report that was never delivered. It is time to start dealing with financial issues with a lot more transparency and the determination to ensure that the taxpayers get better value for their money. So far, not so good.
FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2013
SATURDAY, MAY 11, 2013
MONDAY, MAY 13, 2013
TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2013
WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 2013
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