Members of the Nelson and District Airport Society want to improve the functioning of the airport. Photo submitted

COLUMN: New nonprofit seeks to take over Nelson airport

The airport is currently run by the City of Nelson

Bob Schmitz

Nelson and District Airport Society

The Nelson and District Airport Society was incorporated in August with the purpose of advocating for and ultimately managing the ongoing operation, development, and maintenance of Nelson’s airport.

The Nelson Airport currently serves the wider Nelson area. Being an important part of district infrastructure it is the port for general aviation in the region. The Nelson Airport provides a gateway to the City of Nelson and district for commerce and tourism. It hosts medevac, firefighting, and search and rescue operations, and is the base for numerous commercial enterprises. Notably, it has become apparent to the greater community in recent years of wildfire threat that the Nelson Airport has been a crucial base for wildfire detection and suppression. And the airport remains a source of profit for the city and revenues for area business.

The Nelson and District Airport Society intends to propose to the City of Nelson that the society take on the full management of the airport while increasing the benefits that the airport provides to the city and other stakeholders in Nelson and district. The Society would seek ways to increase services and revenues, make capital improvements, take advantage of significant and available funding sources, and ensure timely maintenance.

The society believes that it can run the Nelson Airport profitably with all profits being retained for ongoing airport improvements while increasing the city’s aviation services and tax base. This arrangement has proven to be successful for the operation of the Creston Airport, currently managed by a non-profit society with financial support from both the Town of Creston and RDCK.

There are precedents within Nelson where societies have taken on civic facilities to manage the Nelson Tramway, the Civic Theatre, Capitol Theatre, and Nelson Youth Soccer. These arrangements have unburdened the city while becoming valued and sustainable community assets, managed by groups with insight and expertise. The Nelson Airport can be similarly managed under the Nelson and District Airport Society.

Elected officials will ultimately have to consider whether to accept the society’s proposal. In the coming weeks leading up to civic and regional elections the society will be endeavoring to inform all stakeholders of the importance of Nelson’s airport and to engage politicians toward stating and demonstrating their ongoing support of the airport. The society will advocate for candidates who are airport supporters.

The Nelson and District Airport Society is currently comprised of six founding members who have a direct and active interest in the Nelson Airport.

Wade Nearing is a local business owner, aviator, airplane owner, and hanger owner. He has been an active user and advocate for the Nelson Airport. He has used his airplanes for both business and pleasure for many years.

Vic Corrie retired from his Nelson Airport-based commercial helicopter business. He remains an active aviator and supporter of the airport and member of the Nelson Pilots Association.

Glen Clarke is retired from engineering and has been actively interested in aviation for many years. He has built, owned and operated airplanes. He is currently an officer with the Nelson Pilots Association and member of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Bob Schmitz, retired from the energy industry, is a past president of the Nelson Pilots Association and is currently a director. He shares ownership in two airplanes based at Nelson Airport. He became an aviator in retirement having learned to fly at the Nelson Airport.

Aaron Young operates his international business out of Nelson. His interest in the aviation industry remains active having provided services and support for a number of years to various airports in Canada.

Case Grypma is a local business owner, longtime aviator, airplane owner, and hanger owner. He is currently the president of the Nelson Pilots Association and recipient of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association Achievement Award. Besides being a long-time supporter of the Nelson Airport, Case is well connected throughout the provincial and national aviation communities and regulatory bodies.

The Nelson and District Airport Association will continue to consult with as many stakeholders and interested parties as possible. For more information about or to comment on the Nelson and District Airport Society please email and someone will respond quickly: nadascznl@gmail.com.

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