Late on Monday afternoon, the town issued a press release regarding the lease cancellation.
It indicated the town received information that Oceanside Air “was in breach of a number of regulations and conditions of their lease as part of an onsite celebration held at the airport terminal” on Nov. 11.
The town conducted an investigation and the release said “video footage showed Oceanside Air owners and staff in the airport terminal, over a 90-minute period, unmasked and with open alcohol. Oceanside Air did not have a liquor permit and the video footage clearly displayed open alcohol outside of their leased space, including in restricted areas of the airport, in the public terminal and in the parking lot.”
The release said the town contacted Oceanside Air about the matter and they appeared as a delegation in front of council at their in-camera meeting Nov. 24, to explain the circumstances.
The town revisited the matter on Dec. 1 and “considered a range of options including preventing Oceanside Air from operating from their hangar altogether.”
“Balancing the severity of the infractions, and the need to report aspects of this incident to Transport Canada, council decided to terminate Oceanside Air’s lease at the terminal with 90 days’ notice, while allowing the airline to maintain their ability to operate charter flights after the lease in the terminal has terminated on March 3, 2022,” said the release.
It concluded: “Our goal is to maintain the friendly atmosphere of the Qualicum Beach airport terminal and prevent the necessity and cost of having security staff on-site to prevent any future issues.”
The Town of Qualicum Beach has reportedly given notice it will terminate a lease at the Qualicum Beach Airport for carrier Oceanside Air.
Via social media, Oceanside Air’s Jim Novak shared a petition asking residents contact town officials to reverse the decision.
“We recently received notice from the Town of Qualicum Beach that they were cancelling our lease to be able to work out of the airport. I’m sharing this in hopes of support from the residents of Qualicum Beach as to the value that we bring to the Island,” he wrote. “Complete disclosure, we had a birthday cake after-hours for a staff member in our office/desk area and a couple of beer were involved. We certainly weren’t crazy or rowdy but a complaint was made by someone that saw us and this is how all of this came about. We have apologized for the error and would take our socializing elsewhere in the future.
“If you would like to help and show your support we have a petition going around but emails and calls to the Town of Qualicum Beach would hopefully help as well.”
The PQB News reached out to Mayor Brian Wiese, council and staff to provide more information on their decision to terminate the lease, as of March 3.
Coun. Scott Harrison said hopes the town will have a detailed statement later in the week.
“I can’t promise anything as of yet, but I believe Coun. (Robert) Filmer also feels strongly that giving people the relevant facts is important,” Harrison said. “As we have video cameras in the terminal, I would think we could provide still images of some of the behaviour we found problematic. But that will ultimately be a council decision.”
Oceanside Air began providing chartered flights last July from Qualicum Beach to anywhere in Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, Kelowna, Prince Rupert and other destinations.