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Chambers of commerce/businesses throw support behind Castlegar's WestJet bid

Four area chambers of commerce have offered regional airport representatives their endorsement in a bid to encourage WestJet to come to the Kootenays – meanwhile the Castlegar chamber is being flooded with letters of support from local businesses.

Just last week, WestJet invited members of the West Kootenay Regional Airport Advisory Committee (including Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff and Nelson Mayor John Dooley) to WestJet’s Calgary campus at the end of this month to offer a presentation detailing the merits of WestJet service in the region.

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At the time, the Castlegar and Rossland chambers had already been working to draft a letter of support, according to Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Pam McLeod.

“This letter has been in the works for months,” she said. “When WestJet’s invitation was made public, it just made sense to act on the work we had already done.

“It went to the chambers of the region for their boards to approve.”

Approve they did, and the final draft, which was forwarded to the City of Castlegar, sports the logos of the Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson and Boundary Chambers of Commerce, and will likely become part of the presentation slated for June 27 and 28.

“It was then suggested that the letter be sent to chamber members to sign and send to the city as evidence of the community’s enthusiasm for WestJet services,” McLeod said, adding the letter was just sent out Monday and has already enjoyed phenomenal response.

She said chamber members represent roughly one third of the 670 licensed businesses in Castlegar and, of those 250 members, more than 50 had already signed and returned the letter by Thursday morning, with more coming in every hour.

The letter, to which business representatives may attach their logos and signatures, reads as follows:

Re: WestJet’s Regional Airline Announcement

To Whom It May Concern;

We are writing on behalf of regional chambers in the West Kootenay Regional (Castlegar & District, Rossland, Boundary Regional, and Nelson & District) Chambers. Collectively we represent over 3,400 businesses in the West Kootenay Region.

We applaud WestJet’s announcement of adding a regional airline to service smaller communities in Canada, and we hope that you consider the West Kootenay’s as a destination for your short haul flight program.

The West Kootenay area is located in the south west portion of British Columbia with a population of approximately 90,000 people. The region hosts a number of large businesses specializing manufacturing, hydroelectric and in health/medical field. The region’s beauty and topography also provides growth for the tourism industry that continues to see growth year over year. Also to add, areas of growth to our region include the tech sector and “green tech” sector. In short the West Kootenay’s is an area that will continue to grow and diversify.

An increase in air service into the region offers residents, visitors and employees another option to fly in and out of the region thus better servicing the needs of the business community and as a group we promote initiatives and endeavours that support and help businesses.

Collectively we urge that you consider the West Kootenays as a destination for WestJet service.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you should require further information on our area.

Warmest Regards,