Just recently the Mayor of Cranbrook, Ross Priest, came to Fernie with an important message: The Cranbrook Airport Expansion Program has begun and is set to be completed in 2007! Smiles shone on the faces of an array of Fernie business professionals as their minds wondered to the possibilities.
Each year tourism activity in the East Kootenay out does the previous. More importantly it has been increasing at a faster pace than that of the infrastructure the area provides. More and more people have discovered “BC’s Best Kept Secret,” the natural beauty of the East Kootenay region and endless supply of recreational activities it offers. From skiing to biking to golfing to fishing, the draw to the area is obvious and has made itself clear to those in the area. Response to the increasing draw to the region is only logical.
Efficient transportation is fundamental to capitalizing on this draw. The Cranbrook Airport Expansion Program is designed to facilitate swift and effortless travel from Eastern Canada, the US West Coast, and more importantly from Northern Europe.
Phase I and II of the expansion include the Runway Project (the laying out of an 8000ft runway), and the Air Terminal Building Project (renovation of existing building to approximately 22,000 sf, allowing service to 200 passengers an hour and parking to accommodate charter busses).
Priest announced that the first two phases of the program are designed to serve transcontinental charters, US west coast service, and an interim, limited European service on a Europe – Cranbrook – Calgary – Europe routing.
Public response has been positive to this development, particularly from those involved in the tourism industry. The tourism industry is contributing to the Marketing Plan and to a multi-year marketing initiative. The benefits go beyond tourism; an estimated 456 direct person years of employment will be created in the East Kootenay region. $15 million in wages, $22 million in GDP and $35 million in airport and tourism output are the approximate economic impacts of airport and tourism employment with this development.
The hard work and planning has paid off as the first phase of the expansion is underway. The anticipation is apparent in the East Kootenay Region, and as we follow this development one thing must remain in the forefront: position your businesses or city to effectively respond to and benefit from the projected growth in tourism. The word is out, let’s help to make “BC’s Best Kept Secret” even finer.