Tenants at the Williams Lake Regional Airport will receive another six months of rent relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
City council received a report during its committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, March 2, from the city’s economic development officer suggesting the rents be waived as they were in October 2020.
“This is to try and keep our businesses operational and make sure at the end of the day when COVID is over that we, particularly, have an airport in our community,” said Mayor Walt Cobb. “I understand there are some communities that aren’t going to have that at the end of the day.”
City economic development officer Beth Veenkamp noted in her report with the airline industry continuing to be hard hit during the pandemic that staff suggested the ‘pro-active’ move to demonstrate the city’s commitment to weathering the storm with local carriers.
It which will cost the city about $6,000 in lost revenue.
Pacific Coastal Airlines has maintained five scheduled flights a week which are essential to fly in doctors and specialists and provide service for residents who must travel, she added, noting Central Mountain Air has discontinued commercial service, but continues to use the airport for Red Chris Mine charter flights.
“We hope to welcome Central Mountain Air back and we wish to make it as easy as possible for them to resume service.”
Enterprise Rent-A-Car, another commercial tenant, has left the terminal and is operating from their downtown location in Williams Lake only, Veenkamp stated.
Passenger numbers in the report show a sharp decline. In January 2021 there were 364 passengers compared to 2,581 in January 2020. Medevacs were up with 24 in January 2021 compared to 10 in January 2020.
“You can see the dramatic startling declines we’ve had in tourism and business sector through our airport. It’s breathtaking,” Coun. Scott Nelson said.
A final vote on waiving the rent took place at the regular council meeting on Tuesday, March 9.