Council agrees to extra airport funding

  • Apr. 15, 2015 3:00 p.m.

This week, City council agreed to provide an additional $50,000 in operating grants through the current three-year contract with the Red Deer Airport, along with a one-time maintenance grant of $125,000.

According to council notes, the hike in grant funds would be used to support additional staffing and to help the airport meet its 2015 maintenance requirements. These funds are also ‘contingent’ on Red Deer County approval of the matching funds.

The City and the County are applying for funding through the New Building Canada – Small Community Fund, to contribute to the airports expansion of the primary runway in order to provide year-round regularly scheduled passenger and goods services. The grant application process was recently endorsed by both councils.

In a letter to council, Red Deer Airport CEO RJ Steenstra said, “As the airport grows so do the needs of the operation and maintenance requirements for the terminal, runway infrastructure and necessary equipment.

“The current operating window for the airport has expanded to 18 hours per day, seven days a week and at the moment stretches the current team beyond their capacity to ensure the airport remains safe and operational.

“The increase in funding would support the hiring of three operations employees as well satisfy the projected 2015 costs for airfield, equipment, groundside and building maintenance activities.”

Council unanimously agreed to the additional funding.

“This is always a privilege for me, frankly, to support such a key piece of infrastructure, especially doing so in the collaborative way we are with the County,” said Councillor Ken Johnston, adding the City needs to continue to support the airport during its building and “core” phase of operations.

Councillor Lawrence Lee said the airport will always continue to be an economic driver for the region. “This is also highlighted in the fact that this was part and parcel of our successful bid for the Canada Winter Games in 2019,” he said.

Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said in a recent conversation with Steenstra, they had spoken about, “The opportunity we have in this region in terms of population growth.”

She added there is considerable potential still in attracting more traffic to the airport as well.

Mayor Tara Veer said the agreement with the airport will be reviewed in 2018, but in the meantime it’s vital to offer additional support as the operation sees continued growth and expansion.

“The long-term objective is of course the economic stability and independence from operational grants from the City and the County.”