More money for airport de-icing equipment

It looks like Red Deer Regional Airport is going to get its de-icing equipment.

City council voted last week to provide up to $525,000 for the equipment, although many councillors said they voted for the motion reluctantly saying it was necessary to keep airport growth plans alive.

Chris Stephan was the only councillor to vote against the additional funding, concerned about the lack of a regular carrier at the airport, asking we can build it, but will they come?

“In principle I certainly support what the airport is trying to do and think it could definitely be a source of economic development for the Red Deer region,” he said.

“But I don’t think the business plan that was brought forward was fully developed and was compelling enough, in my opinion, to issue $500,000 for de-icing equipment for a scheduled air service which we haven’t lined up a contract for and there’s no indication of it yet.

“That could come later, but there’s no indication that if we got the de-icing facility that a scheduled carrier will come. I think I would much rather approve those funds with a fully developed business case. I just don’t think that we are there yet.”

Airport officials said they need de-icing equipment to attract a regular carrier. The City previously approved $150,000 for de-icing equipment, but when the equipment was tendered the lowest bids came in much higher than expected.

Red Deer County is providing $750,000 and Western Economic Diversification is providing $150,000, including an extra $75,000 so the City will provide the rest, up to $525,000 depending on the final cost.

Estimates for a de-icing facility are $1.2 million plus an additional $300,000 for equipment, materials and training.