The West Coast’s leaders are having a tough time agreeing on a new name for the Long Beach Airport.
A new name is the first step in a marketing strategy set to boost the airport’s profile but local leaders are struggling to reach a consensus.
The names put forward so far are: Tofino Regional Airport, Tofino/Ucluelet Regional Airport, Tofino/Wickaninnish Regional Airport and Tofino/Pacific Rim Regional Airport.
The Alberni Clayoquot Regional District’s West Coast Committee met with the Long Beach Airport Advisory committee on Oct. 24 to hash out potential new names. As was reported in last week’s Westerly News, the meeting included a report from airport superintendent Mark Fortune who recommended ‘Tofino Regional Airport’ as the new name.
Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques opposed Fortune’s recommendation and told the Westerly News after the meeting that ‘Tofino Regional’ wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the Coast.
“It needs to be something the whole group is comfortable with. That’s how I see it. It needs to be something we can all get on board with and support,” St. Jacques said.
“Tofino is a leader in the tourism industry, there’s no question about it. But, that airport is much more than just a Tofino airport…They are terrific and we get a lot of people visiting here because they’re visiting there. It’s all good. But, I think, this is a great opportunity for us to finally walk the talk and do something as a group together that’s positive and exciting.”
St. Jacques is pushing for ‘Pacific Rim Regional Airport’ because, she believes, it would better represent the communities the airport serves and could feed off the Pacific Rim National Park’s popularity.
“Pacific Rim Regional doesn’t pinpoint one community over another. I’m not suggesting for a second that we call it the ‘Ucluelet Airport’ or ‘Ucluelet Regional Airport,’” she said.
“I see this as a huge opportunity for us to move forward in a positive way as a region, along with all our neighbours. I think this is the perfect time to give it a name that covers our region. Pacific Rim Regional Airport, I think, would be appropriate. We’re right in the middle of the Pacific Rim National Park and, on the Google side of things, it gets tons of hits.”
There is no timeline for choosing a name and, while the marketing plan can’t kick off until there’s a name to market, St. Jacques said it’s important to find a name the entire Coast can get behind.
“I’d rather take our time to do a good job and get a name that everybody can feel happy and proud about,” she said.
“It’s exciting to think we could all come together and work hard on this and I look forward to more regional participation on many things; economic development being one of them.”
There’s currently no mechanism for public input in the naming process but St. Jacques said she would be open to letting locals have a say.
“Certainly, I think it would be a great idea,” she said.