LETTER: Time to re-purpose airstrip

LETTER: Time to re-purpose airstrip

From reader John Bowden

Re: “Plane crashes in supermarket parking lot,” Aug. 6

The recent near-miss airplane accident in Nelson is an ideal opportunity to revisit whether an airstrip continues to serve our city.

Although such occurrences are rare, the sheer proximity of the airport to a hotel, businesses, parking areas, and walking paths means that next time the result may not be so benign.

In a city where space is at a premium, it is time to do away with a giant waterfront concrete pad. This prime area could be repurposed for so many uses that have a larger community benefit — think housing, parks, shops and services.

The sound of recreational planes doing loops taking off and landing from 7 a.m. until sunset echoes through our mountain amphitheatre.

The noise is a burden created by a few pilots that the rest of us must hear, while the carbon emissions are wasteful.

Instead of pouring money into the Nelson airport for much needed repairs, it’s time for Nelson pilots to head a little further west.

Why not base private planes out of Castlegar where there is a fully functional airport in a safer location?

The limited number of medical evacuations each year can surely be handled with an ambulance from Nelson to Castlegar and flight service there.

Let’s use this unfortunate accident to imagine the possibilities of our neglected waterfront. A re-purposing of the airstrip need not eliminate helicopter services, but the runway deserves to be taxied into history.

John Bowden