Airport manager Mark Fortune points at the site of a future local food production facility by Dion Olin and Louise Rodgers of The Coastal Hive. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Airport manager Mark Fortune points at the site of a future local food production facility by Dion Olin and Louise Rodgers of The Coastal Hive. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Upgrades coming to Long Beach Airport near Tofino and Ucluelet

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District approves agriculture project

Long-Beach Airport is getting a new $750,000 water main and is earmarked for a future agriculture site.

Airport manager Mark Fortune said the news is a huge win for the coast.

New Water Line

The brand new plastic water main will replace the 80-year old original military cast iron infrastructure and supply increased water pressure to all the users on the site, including a proposed hanger.

Fortune said the land that was cleared for the project could be utilized for future leases.

“We just had a forest of alder and trying to rent that to someone was kind of difficult, well now we had to clear it as part of the water main (project). Anything along the road, except right close to the gullies, could be utilized for future development.”

Fortune expects the ACRD will begin the tendering process for the new water main in late April or early May.

Agriculture Site

On March 10, the ACRD board of directors approved a pilot greenhouse project put forward by The Coastal Hive, a community food production initiative led by Louise Rodgers and Dion Olin.

“They are looking at putting a test garden component. I’m really excited about that. It could be local food production,” said Fortune, adding that the green house concept would work well in terms of limiting wildlife attractants. Fortune told the Westerly the ACRD prepped the land for The Coastal Hive, who will be operating on a three-year term lease agreement with an option to expand.

“If you were here back in November and December, it was just a big stump farm. It was just a mess. We had TMD do the clearing work for us, and we will dispose of the debris with a combination of burning and chipping,” he said.

“Depending on weather, we do (the burning) in co-ordination with the Province. We use a burning index. All the burning we’ve done so far have been done with permits from the Province and in accordance to the burning guidelines.”

A message was sent to Louise Rodgers for additional comments and more information will be shared about this project as it develops.

Old military camp

Pre-disturbed land adjacent to the proposed agriculture site was also prepped and readied for future development.

“The groundwork was put in by the military before us. We just had to expose it. This side here with the roadbeds that were already laid in by the military, we are going to use that for possible industrial expansion. That could be anywhere from surfboard manufacturing, to Kombucha (production), to automotive maintenance to whatever. Zoning for the airport is pretty wide-open,” said Fortune.

He went on to say that the airport lands does not support the infrastructure for housing.

West Coast Multiplex

ACRD is holding a five or six acre piece of land for the West Coast Multiplex Society (WCMS).

“It’s earmarked for the multiplex if they can get their funding. It would be a big thing if they can make it happen,” said Fortune.

WCMS chair Samantha Hackett said Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations applied for a Canada British Columbia Infrastructure Grant (community, culture and recreation stream) on behalf of all eight surrounding communities: Ucluelet, Tofino, Area C, Hesquiaht, Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Toquaht and Ucluelet First Nations.

She said the $12-million grant proposal is currently under review for the second time, and that they should hear back by summer or fall.

“It’s positioned well to support First Nations, recreation, seniors, and youth. It fits well for post-COVID investment plan,” she said.

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