Airport trees will be cut down

  • Feb. 2, 2011 8:00 a.m.

The stand of 100 spruce trees at Ponoka Industrial Airport that has divided councillors and pilots for more than a decade will be cut down.

Councillors decided unanimously to remove the 40-year-old stand of trees between Highway 2A and the runway at Labrie Field in the interests of pilot safety and to minimize the Town of Ponoka’s legal liability in the event of a mishap at the airport.

In their place a stand of shrubs would be planted and more trees would be planted along the walking trails.

Coun. Beva Hamilton reported to council that seven corrective recommendations were made by civil aviation authorities in 1998 – including removing the trees.

She told council the report observed, “All trees on the east side of the surveyed runway appear to violate the transitional surface.” The trees were to be surveyed and cut as required to satisfy the authority.

“This was not done and the airport lost its certification,” Hamilton told council.

“In the interest of safety and for the advancement of the use of the facility all trees on the east side of the airport must be removed as soon as possible,” Hamilton recommended to council. “To move forward we must remove all of the trees.”

No timetable for the removal of the trees was mentioned.

“They are a beautiful stand of trees and I would love to have them stay but in the interest of the safety of our citizens and the people who use the (airport) I think it is in our interests to move to take them away,” she said.

At its Sept. 14 meeting, council heard a delegation of pilots who oppose the recommendation of the town’s airport commission. They say stand of trees actually help to reduce crosswinds making for safer landings. Other pilots disagree.

Coun. Rick Bonnett said the issue of removing the trees, which has been on the books since March 1998, “has been beat to death by other councils. There’s going to be people who love it and people who hate it.”

The report also advised the trees on private property across Highway 2A should have their tops trimmed by three feet to have the airport become a non-precision runway.