Welcoming plane floated

Imagine a float plane coming up out of the water to greet you as you drive into the northern end of the city

Imagine a float plane coming up out of the water to greet you as you drive into the northern end of the city.

That’s a scene the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association has been dreaming about for years, and could soon become reality if the city embraces the idea.

Brian Shaw, co-chair of the Campbellton group, told city council at its Monday night meeting that association members have sourced parts of a Beaver float plane (including an old fuselage being stored in Campbell River) and are eager to get moving on a unique and eye-catching entrance sign.

“We have it all in place, we have it ready to go,” Shaw said. “We do need a steering committee around that, and if everybody jumps on board we can have something that people coming to Campbell River will remember for the rest of their lives.”

If all goes according to plan, the float plane will sit on a concrete pad and will appear as if it’s taking off out of the water. But rather than coming off the water at Tyee Spit, where float planes are most frequently seen, the Beaver model would be situated just in front of the spring-fed pond at 14th Avenue and the Inland Island Highway.

Because of the location, visitors coming into Campbell River would see the float plane replica as they are driving into the city.

Shaw said the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association has plans to include an entrance off of 14th Avenue with parking for 20 or more vehicles, benches, pathways, and possibly a small tourism kiosk within the triangular-shaped green space.

“It would be a place where people can stop and have a picture of themselves taken with that airplane,” said Shaw who described it as a piece of Campbell River that people could take home with them. “It will be an exceptional feature. We have the airplane, we just need to get this steering committee to get it down.”

The Campbellton Neighbourhood Association is asking council to consider forming a steering committee made up of city staff, a member of council, a member of the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association, a B.C. Ministry of Highways representative, a member of the Seaplane Aviation Industry of Campbell River, and of the tourism industry.

Shaw said the Neighbourhood Association met with Ministry of Highways administration in Courtenay and provided them with a site plan and a series of photos. Shaw that while staff were “intrigued with the idea” it was made clear that the lead in such a project would have to come from the City of Campbell River and not the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association.

City council considered Shaw’s presentation and voted to defer any decisions surrounding the entrance sign to its 2015 budget discussions, which are coming up next month.

Shaw said the Neighbourhood Association has estimated that the project could cost up to $125,000 but that figure does not include a paved parking area off 14th Avenue. Shaw said the Neighbourhood Association, however, is reasonably confident that a good portion of the work could be carried out by volunteers in order to save thousands of dollars.