There’s value in keeping airport services high

Cameron Orr's On the Line.

At a recent Smithers council meeting the worth of a manned food kiosk was debated for the airport.

A lease agreement was just signed for Bugwood Bean to take over the cafe at the airport, which had been closed for a few weeks, much to the dismay of some passengers, according to airport manager Rob Blackburn.

As council voted to sign the agreement, concerns were brought up over the cost versus its worth. The Town will pay $50,000 to have the business operate there. It was described as an airport service — like providing parking — which explains the cost to the Town. The operator will also provide other airport services, such as dealing with the parking metres, should assistance be required.

It’s a location that has had difficulty in the past. Mark Bandstra wondered if with the cost to the Town for a service that has proved challenging to be viable in the airport might not be worth it.

Perhaps take that $50,000 and add bathrooms to the passenger waiting area, he suggested.

Whether the airport even needs a manned-business over a vending machine system is a great question that is well worth the debate.

For the value it adds to an airport, I would side with the airport manager who suggested that, in so many words, a lack of a manned food service would in a way devalue the airport.

In a time like this, when mining and other developments are taking off (pardon the unintentional airport pun) it’s a great time to keep highly visible services open. Traffic is likely only to go up for the next couple of years.

This lease for Bugwood Bean is a five year deal. If after five years the business just doesn’t work out well enough for either party, maybe it will be time to go to vending machines.

Yet in a time when Smithers and its airport will be raising its profile, we should make sure it’s serviced as well as it can be.

Cameron Orr is editor of The Interior News.