Concerned about situation at airport

Web Lead

To the Editor:

As Creston and area prepares for another municipal election, I want to bring to voters’ and taxpayers’ attention to some of the issues I have had over the last 15 months with some of our public officials and the airport society.

As a pilot and a former airplane owner, I rented a tie-down spot at the Creston airport. Last summer, I came home from holidays in July and discovered the airport society had moved my plane without permission and upon inquiry as to why, was given three different reasons by three different people, none of the reasons constituting an emergency, which I could have accepted.

I approached the society last August and requested an apology and assurance that my plane and others would not be touched without permission again because planes are personal property, they are expensive personal property and unknown handling of one’s plane could create a dangerous in-flight incident due to unrecognized damage to the plane by an unauthorized move. As I explained my feelings to the five board members in attendance at the August meeting, one of the board members said, “You write an apology and we’ll sign it.” He then turned to the other four board members and stated, “Let’s raise the tie down fees to $100 per month and be done with it!” The fees are currently $15 per month. I took this to mean that the board was trying to drive out anybody without a lot of money.

Within a few weeks, the society drew up a new contract demanding pilots sign it, essentially then agreeing that the society could touch anybody’s plane at any time for any purpose. Upon inquiry with several other airports in B.C., this new contractual agreement has no equal. Also of note is that some of the rules in this contract do not apply if the pilot owns a hangar. Most of the airport society members either don’t have a plane or have access to a hangar.

Over the last year, I have contacted our mayor on many occasions and even made a submission to town council about my concerns with the airport society. Mayor Ron Toyota was the original president of the airport society but apparently he has no clout with it anymore. In fact, after three written submissions from three different pilots complaining about the society and the way they have been treated, Mr. Toyota just tells me he needs more complaints. To my knowledge, at this point, three pilots have sold their planes at deep losses to themselves just to get away from the misery of dealing with this self-serving society. Other pilots are upset, but not willing to make noise because the society has so much power over them and they still want to keep their planes here in Creston, so they suffer in silence and grudgingly comply with the demands.

The society is now building a $375,000 “clubhouse” cleverly disguised as an emergency services building. The photo in the Aug. 25 Advance has a strategically placed ambulance in the background of the site of the new clubhouse to fool the taxpaying public into thinking that their money is going to promote the safety and well-being of the community.

Our elected officials, Mayor Toyota and Area B Director, John Kettle are not doing the voters any service by backing or supporting this project. The current building serving as the airport terminal is more than adequate for the present and near future activity at the Creston airport. There is plenty of training space at the rec centre and fire halls in the area without spending public money on another “emergency” or “training” facility. Make no mistake: This building is really a fancy clubhouse paid for with public money that will serve the wealthy few.

Make an educated choice this November when we elect the men and women who will represent us and spend our money.

Keith Goforth