Terrace city council turns down airport request for development fee exemption

Airport should also ask other local governments for help, council decides

TERRACE city council voted last night to deny the Northwest Regional Airport’s governing society a full $133,000 development fee exemption to help pay for an expansion project valued at more than $15 million.

Airport manager Carman Hendry made the request at council’s April 13 meeting for the fee exemption which would pay for the cost of building permits and other city paperwork associated with the expansion project.

The expansion project plans feature a new check-in hall, an expanded wait room for passengers, an easier way to check baggage, a new security screening area and new offices for resident airlines.

“We always recommend that they apply for assistance through grants or come to council,” said city development services director David Block in noting that recently waived development fees for the Ksan Shelter and the Tuck Ave. senior housing expansion never exceeded $5,000 to $10,000.

“I agree the airport is important,” said councillor Stacey Tyers about the upgrades and the original requested amount, “but it’s equal to three years of the tax decrease that we gave to businesses.”

“The airport is making more now. Revenues are higher when you are busier.”

Councillor Brian Downie was recorded as opposed to accepting the staff recommendation to deny the original request.

“We need to show some support,” said Downie. “People are pleased they [the airport society] have taken a visionary approach.”

Councillors Sean Bujtas and James Cordeiro argued for trying to negotiate a discount but not a full rebate based on the idea that the actual cost to the city of waiving a fee does not equal the amount paid for the permit on bigger developments such as this one.

“We need to show some support,” said Downie. “People are pleased they [the airport society] have taken a visionary approach.”

The city already provides a property tax exemption to the Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society and this was also mentioned as another reason why waiving the full fee shouldn’t be done.

City chief administrative officer Heather Avison said the fact that the airport society’s request is tied to a Terrace development permit would complicate requests made to other local governments for financial assistance.

Council did decide it would be prepared to consider an exemption, provided the burden was shared by other local governments such as the District of Kitimat and the Kitimat-Stikine regioinal district who also benefit from the airport.

Booze permit for foam party denied

City council also voted to turn down local resident Landon Pereira who is organizing a foam party at the Sportsplex and applied for a liquor permit.

“Noted concerns include potential safety issues emerging from a foam covered dance floor,” said a briefing from the RCMP representative on the Terrace Committee to Approve Public Events.

The event would have a maximum of 500 people and Pereiria is forging ahead with his plan despite council’s refusal to endorse alcohol at the event.

Council noted that insuring such event would most likely be the next challenge for Pereira.

Councillor Stacey Tyers said she had been looking at the event’s Facebook page and that he is still sending out invitations.

The fact that the event isn’t for a charity or nonprofit also worked against Pereira.