Smaller B.C. airports hamstrung by Olympics security plans
Last Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2009 | 9:48 PM PT
Several small airports across B.C. may suffer during next year's Olympics if they plan on offering flights to Vancouver.
For two months next winter, all flights entering Vancouver will need to have passed a stringent security check, including machine screening of baggage and individual passengers.
Many small airports around B.C. — including those in Trail, Powell River and Masset — don't have adequate screening equipment and may be forced to cancel Vancouver-bound flights.
Sgt. Cam Kowalski of the RCMP Integrated Security Unit said there aren't enough screening devices available.
"If everybody had endless manpower and resources, then we could certainly throw it at the problem. But unfortunately that is not the case."
Kowalski said that he met with Pacific Coastal Airlines, a regional West Coast carrier, to discuss screening problems, and that the RCMP is trying to help install screening facilities in Port Hardy as a hub for northern flights. If the efforts are successful, flights from northern B.C. to Vancouver will stop in Port Hardy, on the north end of Vancouver Island, where luggage and passengers will be vetted.
"We've tried to facilitate as many locations as possible to allow as many operations to continue. It's certainly not a double standard,” Kowalski said.
Olympic security officials said earlier this week that screening facilities will be installed in Victoria and Vancouver’s harbour airports.
That led Alan Stanley of Trail’s airport to argue that Olympic organizers have made the Games a Lower Mainland-centred event.
"[It’s] quite contrary to what we expected the Olympics to offer — the idea we were going to showcase the province and it wasn't just going to be a Lower Mainland thing," Stanley said.
So far, Pacific Coastal has not decided what it will do next.
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