The City of Prince Rupert will examine a number of options to regionalize the airport, but no decision will be made until council meets for a workshop on the subject later this year.
In a report to council, staff outlined the savings that could be realized if the city changed the way the airport is run.
“Over the past five years, the average is an approximately $800,000 per year subsidy coming from the tax base … to cover that we would have to add a $14 per passenger user fee on top of what the airport collects,” explained acting chief financial officer Corrine Bomben.
“Considering the communities served and benefiting from this airport extends beyond the taxpayers of Prince Rupert, a cost sharing model should be considered that reflects the regional service that access to the airport encompasses,” she wrote in a report to council.
Council was given four options to help offset the cost to taxpayers, each with various advantages.
The first was to implement the $14 per person user fee previously discussed, which would increase one way travel for a family of four by $56. However, staff noted this would likely “deter people from using the airport at all, causing them to choose the Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace, or to not fly at all”.
The second option would be to approach the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District about including a fee on the taxes they collect from the surrounding areas and have that amount provided to the City of Prince Rupert as a grant of sorts to recognize the regional nature of the airport.
The third option would be to come to a cost sharing agreement with communities that “either directly or indirectly benefit from the airport” based on the most recent Stats Canada population information. Staff noted this would split the costs between a much larger population.
The fourth option, listed as an alternative to all of the above, would be for the regional district to completely take over the airport, Digby Island ferry, the docks and the road to the airport to “establish the airport as being regional infrastructure with regional benefit”.