The West Kootenay Regional Airport is getting a million dollars for pavement rehabilitation. (Photo by: Betsy Kline)

Province to spend $1 million on Castlegar airport

One of 16 airports given grants for improvements this year

Castlegar’s airport is going to get a $1.4 million upgrade in the near future.

The B.C. Air Access Program announced grants last week to 16 airports in the province, including Castlegar and Creston in the West Kootenay.

In Castlegar, the province is putting up $1 million on airport and taxiway pavement rehabilitation and improvement.

The City of Castlegar will also contribute $350,000 (one-quarter of total cost) to the project.

“Our local community airports rely on funding to complete crucial safety and infrastructure upgrades,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We’re committed to these regional grants to make travel better for people throughout our province.”

The taxiway was last rehabilitated in 1992. A portion of the apron was last rehabilitated in 2002. The existing pavement is in poor condition and would have required the City to fully fund repaving to avoid foreign object debris caused by loose and deteriorating asphalt.

“The airport is a vital economic driver for the City and the West Kootenay,” says Mayor Bruno Tassone. “Together, the $2,765,000 in recent airport grants improve the state of repair of the airport, which enables us to pursue enhanced reliability and service expansion.”

The BCAAP grant follows the April 2019 receipt of a $1.3M grant from the Airport Capital Assistance Program to rehabilitate airfield lighting and electrical systems.

These two projects add to numerous City airport-related initiatives that work to fly more, with fewer cancellations, and a safety-first mantra: airport renaming and rebranding in 2012; $100K investment in design and infrastructure improvements in 2013; and a push to implement a Registered Navigation Procedure (GPS- based navigation program using software installed in planes that allows for curved approaches rather than the current straight-line approaches) that would significantly reduce winter flight cancellations (up to 85 per cent).

The City portion of funding of these two projects is included the approved 2019 capital budget. Grants will fund 26 per cent of the City’s $10,100,000 capital budget in 2019. The City works hard to apply for grants given they provide good leverage of taxes paid by City residents.

Creston is also getting just over $105,000 for an airside storage building.

Benefits in other airports include runway resurfacing and terminal building expansions to increased medevac services, weather detection systems and fire protection upgrades.

“Our airports are vital for B.C. and the people who rely on them. We are thrilled that the Province is, once again, dedicating funding to support these heavily used facilities and make improvements possible,” said Heather Bell, chair, BC Aviation Council. “We all need to work together to ensure future infrastructure demands are covered as well as the human resources required to operate these critical facilities.”

B.C. has more than 300 public airports, heliports and water aerodromes, which play a significant role in connecting communities and in supporting the B.C. economy.

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