Pitt Meadows city hall has been rebuffed in an attempt to take over sole control of the airport.
On July 29, the day before the Pitt Meadows Airport Society’s annual general meeting, the City of Pitt Meadows asked Maple Ridge to relinquish control of YPK. The two cities are members of a society that appoints a board to operate the facility.
“That letter really took us by surprise,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.
She contacted as many members of her council as she could reach, and heard a consensus that, “We have absolutely no intention of relinquishing control.
“This is a long-term asset that is of strategic value to Maple Ridge,” said Read. “And it has great economic potential going forward.”
Read responded by letter the same day:
“Our council was looking forward to engaging with Pitt Meadows council and the board of directors towards a new vision for the our airport. The airport is a regional asset. Further, major industrial and residential areas of Maple Ridge are in very close proximity to the airport and are affected by airport activities,” she wrote. “As such, we remain clear in our position that we have no intention of divesting ourselves of our interest in our joint asset. We also wish to remind you that multi-jurisdictional control of an airport is not unique to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.”
The letter from Pitt Meadows to Maple Ridge cited frustrations with the two cities failing to reach consensus in two areas.
One was strategic planning, the other, composition of the board.
Maple Ridge wanted to include the volunteer board that operates the airport in strategic planning, while Pitt Meadows did not.
Read also responded that her city has recommended qualified appointments to the board that have been rejected by Pitt Meadows.
Murray Day, president of the airport society, said the board is satisfied that it is fulfilling its mandate of developing the airport, and it is operating “in a sustainable manner.”
He said the request for Maple Ridge to withdraw did not originate from his group.
“The board is happy with the current arrangement,” he said. “The asset, although it sits in Pitt Meadows, is a regional asset.”
Day said the volunteer board receives no remuneration, and “we’re there at the pleasure of the two cities, who appoint directors.”
He agreed that Pitt Meadows’ desire for control had led to some speculation by business people about the city’s plans for the airport. He clarified that there is an operating agreement in place with the federal government, and Ottawa would have to be consulted before any part of the airport was sold.
He said the AGM generally deals with “housekeeping” issues. This time, after a hot meeting, the AGM was not adjourned, but was instead recessed until Oct. 29.
“The two municipalities want to consult further about their roles,” said Day.
“We’ve got some things to think about,” said Pitt Meadows Coun. Bruce Bell. “The two cities will get together.”
He declined to speak about his council’s thwarted desire to exclusively control the airport, or what its future plans for the site would be.
Bell did say there are businesses from Vancouver airport interested in locating in Pitt
“Business people have ideas for the area,” he said. “It’s a great piece of land in a great location – who wouldn’t have ideas.”
Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker was unavailable for comment.
Pitt Meadows is one of the province’s most active airports, and In 2012 the YPK made the list of Canada’s 20 busiest airports by aircraft movements, in 20th place with 87,000.