Skydivers fall out of Pitt Meadows Regional Airport
A skydiving business faced with a 2,500-per-cent increase in its license fee is packing up and leaving Pitt Meadows airport.
Pacific Skydivers Ltd. met with the airport society’s board last week in another attempt to negotiate an agreement for another year.
Ian Flanagan, owner of Pacific Skydivers, has been fighting the increase in the fee, from $2,800 annually to more than $60,000, for the past year.
“The board seemed pretty receptive,” he said.
However, the board directed airport manager Glenn Ralph to deal with the license.
Ralph offered Pacific Skydivers an annual license fee of $4.05 per square metre, which amounts to $60,075 a year, plus taxes.
Flanagan say he pays $2.50 per square metre for hangar space he rents at the airport and he won’t pay double the amount for a “small swamp piece of land” near the runway for skydivers to land on.
“They are going me drive me off the airport to replace it with nothing,” he added.
“We’ve been here for 26 years without a problem.”
Speaking from Calgary, Flanagan says he is willing to pay $3,000 a year for the landing zone – a 20 per cent increase over last year.
In addition to the license fee paid directly to the airport, Pacific Skydivers, which has operated out of the airport since 1986, and Flanagan Enterprises occupy 12,300 square feet of hangar space on the property.
The airport is operated by a private, non-profit society, the board for which is appointed by the municipalities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
The mayors sit on the board as non-voting directors, but have not intervened in the dispute because they consider it a “tenant-landlord” issue.
Maple Ridge Coun. Bob Masse, however, visited Pacific Skydivers after Christmas and still hopes for a compromise.
“I’m certainly not happy it’s gotten to this point,” he said.
“I hoped it wouldn’t. It’s a pretty sad day if that’s what it’s come to. I think it is something in the community that’s kind of special and that people enjoy.”
Ralph and airport board president Mike Pierce did not return calls for comment.