Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki says the city will be engaging the public to assure travellers the Penticton Airport is a safe and reliable option.
He made the comments following word Transport Canada has shortened the airport’s only runway by about 470 feet due to an obstacle it identified at the north approach.
According to the government agency, the obstacle is an “exhaust system attached to a mill” (Greenwood Forest Products) adding the shortened runway has impacts to specific navigational aids that affect some flights that arrive at night and in bad weather.
“I hope not,” said Vassilaki about whether people may avoid using the airport. “We’ll take care of it, the city will put out information to assure everybody that it is a safe airport, we’ll do that through the media and other ways we have.
“Sometimes governments over exaggerate and I think this is one of those times.”
He added the mill has been in its current format for many years and that this is not the first time there have been concerns.
“I remember there was a problem with a tree and there and another time when they (federal government) were complaining about the smoke from something they (mill) were burning,” said Vassilaki.
Both Air Canada Express – Jazz and WestJet earlier said they were aware of the situation and have acknowledged there may be delays or cancellations.
Transport Canada said a notice to airmen was issued by Nav Canada about the shortening of the runway.
Also this week Transport Canada explained the exhaust system is about 2.98 metres above the takeoff and approach surface which is an imaginary line that extends from the end of the runway at a slope of 2.5 per cent and the obstacle itself is 21.6 metres (70.7 feet) high.
Transport Canada added it is working closely with Greenwood officials to resolve the matter, which only came to light again during a recent audit by the agency.