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Delta throwback: Lots of ideas about airport site's future

Parts of the site today continue to evolve with new uses
BC Aviation Council executive Fraser Jensen points out some ideas for the airport site in 1973.

Let’s head back to May 1973 when many ideas were discussed about the future of the old Boundary Bay Airport lands.

At a meeting of the Delta Chamber of Commerce, MP John Reynolds and representatives with the BC Aviation Council talked about a variety of development ideas. Reynolds said he favoured the development of an industrial-recreation complex at the site. His proposal also included getting the runways back in operation.

Two years later, in 1975, Delta council gave serious thought to having a $12-million maximum security prison built on 25 acres of land at the decommissioned airport. The Delta prison would have been one of three new maximum security penitentiaries and two medium security institutions to be established in B.C.

The federal government at the time received a Ministry of Transport staff report recommending revitalizing the Second World War airport, instead, as a major recreational and commercial airport for Western Canada.

Years later, the airport was reactivated and in the late 1990s it was handed over to the municipality. Alpha Aviation now has the long-term lease to operate the facility.

In 2023, council approved expanded uses for the Boundary Bay Airport lands.

The Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment expanded the area of non-aviation specific uses allowed to include a property on Churchill Street, changing the designation from Transportation Terminal to Industrial.

Approximately 484 acres (196 hectares) of the airport and the lands are leased to Alpha Aviation until 2099, including about 190 acres (77 hectares) that over the past decade have already been redesignated for industrial and warehouse purposes.

Alpha Aviation subleases to various businesses, primarily on the lands adjacent to Churchill Street.

A Delta staff report noted there is interest to expand non-aviation uses to attract a variety of commercial and industrial tenants, including manufacturing, technology, warehousing and logistics. Other permitted uses would include restaurants, cold storage facilities and film production studios, among others.