Would an expansion of the airstrip in Osoyoos, located roughly 20 minutes by car from the 3,200-foot runway at the airport in Oliver and equal distance from Oroville’s airport across the border in Washington, be in the best interest of society?
Broadly, quality of life in our Canadian mixed economy depends on private investors who, in pursuit of profit, invest in economic production and in businesses which distribute wealth in the community via employment and create a tax base for needed government services.
Even more important, the standard of living depends upon good government, which with a precautionary approach ensures private as well as public investment. And use of tax does not usurp social, economic and ecological realities, but rather adds value and solves issues facing society — using fewer resources. Hence the society that makes up the economy of Osoyoos and the South Okanagan should welcome private investors that show the private sector meets its task in our economy.
However, the most important question here, as in all economic development, is: will the government meet its task and its accountability to society. Will an expansion of the Osoyoos airstrip, minutes away from other airports in the area, be the best allocation of scarce resources, and thus in the best long-term interests of society?
The always clear and present danger is that politics cannot be understood without the use of natural and social science. Therefore, the society that makes up the South Okanagan’s economy should expect a prudent independent analysis of the proposal aimed at expanding the airstrip in Osoyoos as it should for any economic development or allied proposal.
Perhaps a prudent analysis will show that the best for society at large in the South Okanagan region would be to upgrade Oliver’s airport to CAT I. Or, why not extend the runway in Oliver from 3,200 to 3,600 feet and render it a Category III A, with a decision height less than 100 feet? I would prefer the latter.
Will the political decision of whether or not to expand the airstrip in Osoyoos reflect new thinking and new possibilities, based on understanding produced by relevant research, and collaboration in the region of what is best for the region at large? Or, will the decision become another example of patronage driven politics and municipal turf protection overriding social, economic and environmental realities?