Airport land development helps economy grow

Developing vacant land at Nanaimo Airport could be worth millions to the central Vancouver Island economy in new jobs and spending. It’s also essential to regional growth.
Airport operations already generate an estimated $230-million annually in economic impact for the region (direct & indirect), making it a key economic driver for central Vancouver Island. An economic impact assessment completed last year tied regional growth prospects to the airport’s ability to expand.
The regional economy will be constrained, the report said, if the airport doesn’t continue to meet demand for air services. To keep up, the airport needs more development and infrastructure.
Nanaimo Airport Commission’s 20-year plan addresses those needs. And one of its first steps is to unlock the potential of its developable land.
Some of that potential has already been realized. Yukon-based Alkan Air last year opened a hangar after leasing a newly-available lot. The company’s arrival created five full-time jobs.
The commission is working with industry experts to market 50 hectares of land. Development will be managed in phases. Aviation-related firms are the initial focus. The land is ideal for companies looking to expand operations and capitalize on the record growth at Nanaimo Airport which is 10 years ahead of its passenger volume projections.
Several other factors have also raised interest among the aviation and aerospace sectors. The first phase of available land fronts both the main airport roadway and the primary taxiway. And Nanaimo Airport is a well-serviced, mid-sized airport that can offer long-term leases and very competitive development costs.
The commission has set out careful criteria for development. New tenants, for example, must complement the airport’s existing business partners and provide benefit to the regional economy.
While being good for the region, land development is also essential to support the airport’s long-term growth and financial sustainability. Also essential: infrastructure upgrades. Work has begun on a much-needed $14-million expansion of the Air Terminal Building that creates more space and convenience for passengers.