New convenience at YLW

The first of what is promised to be a larger commercial expansion opened Saturday at Kelowna International Airport.

Called Airport Plaza, it includes an ESSO gas bar, convenience store, Tim Hortons and a Freshii restaurant.

Announced in the spring of 2015 as part of a larger airport expansion, the plaza was scheduled to open in the fall of that year but instead, opened today.

"The airport is growing and the city is growing, said owner Phil Patara during Saturday's grand opening.

"This was needed, a gas station and food outlets."

Patara says this is just the first of two phases for this portion of the airport property. The next phase, which he expects to begin constructing next year, will include a car wash, automobile detailing and other retail shops.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran hinted this would be the first of many commercial investments at the airport.

Airport director Sam Samaddar said he couldn't get into specifics as to what could potentially be coming in the future.

"I can tell you we have service land to the north of KF Aerospace, between the highway and what was the railway tracks," said Samaddar.

"That land is available for bringing airport based support facilities and others to locate here at the airport."

Speaking at the opening, Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr pointed to the "massive" economic impact provided by the airport and the approximately 4,500 people employed on the grounds.

He added the lure of the federal Liberal Caucus to the city next month was, in part, due to direct flights coming into the city from Toronto.

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