Six years ago the continued existence of the Nelson Airport, in British Columbia, was threaten by a city council with visions of redeveloping the airport lands. There were claims that the airport was a money losing asset and that immense benefits could accrue to city taxpayers by building residential housing on site.
The threat stirred the local pilot community into action and a number of initiatives were undertaken to promote and save the airport. These included a study documenting the economic spin-off from the airport and the production of a promotional video, partially funded by the COPA Special Action Fund (SAF).
In addition, the Nelson Pilot?s Association (NPA, COPA Flight 87) became more active in the community, particularly during the 2005 municipal election which resulted in the possible airport closure becoming a major campaign issue. An Airport Appreciation Day was held which has evolved into the current Nelson Flight Fest (This year?s date, July 25), an event which draws more than 3,000 visitors to the airport and which has become the city?s biggest family event of the summer.
We are pleased to report that in the past few years the relationship between NPA and City Hall has changed from suspicion and fear to one of partnership and cooperation. An airport advisory committee was re-established and it has recommended a number of initiatives to city council which have been implemented. Today NPA has a contract with the city to provide daytime staff during the summer months to assist itinerant aircraft with fuelling, parking, looking after the grounds maintenance and identifying commercial traffic for the purpose of collecting landing and parking fees (non-commercial flights only pay overnight parking fees).
During the winter months NPA continues to employ a student part-time to provide janitorial services in the terminal building.
The SAF contribution from COPA was a great help to NPA at a crucial time. Now we are happy to be in a position to repay some of the assistance received with a $1,000 contribution to the SAF.
We also encourage other COPA Flights to break into their piggy bank and join us and other flights that have already done so.
Nelson Pilots Association
ed. This is an excellent example of the purpose for COPA's Special Action Fund. We have seen successful outcomes such as at Nelson, but there remain significant challenges to our freedom to fly that require financial resources in order to achieve results. Please read more about the need to donate in this newspaper.