A rendering of the proposed airport expansion.

Council applies for airport expansion

Smithers council agreed Monday night to apply for a grant to help pay for an airport expansion costing over $4.5 million.

Smithers town council weighed the options, and at Monday’s council of the whole meeting supported applying for a Building Canada Fund grant to expand and upgrade the Smithers Regional Airport.

Staff estimated the cost at over $4.5 million. The grant if approved would see the federal, provincial and municipal governments splitting the cost three ways.

That puts Smithers’ share at $1.5 million. The town believes that loan could be paid off using the airport infrastructure reserve funded by airport fees, meaning no hit to the taxpayer.

More and more, the airport is the access point for our community. It’s critical in terms of people’s quality of life, living here, being able to get to other communities; and it’s also critical for economic development,” said Mayor Taylor Bachrach, pointing out sectors such as tourism and mineral exploration rely heavily on the airport.

Regardless of the resource development we see on the books, it’s time to make an investment in the terminal building.”

Council met Monday night to discuss specifics on the application. A plan to deal with baggage area congestion raised the cost of the expansion.

Finding grants to pay for a $3.5 million south trunk storm sewer project and a $1.5 million lagoon polishing at the sewage treatment plant were also on the agenda.

Suggested airport work included adding 6,000 sq. ft. of building space on the south end of the existing 9,440 sq. ft. building, more than doubling passenger hold room seating from 54 to 118, new accessible washrooms, more efficient check-in, baggage handling and security areas, and renovations to the existing structure to improve energy efficiency.

The number of passengers at the airport has increased from 59,143 in 2000 to 82,768 in 2014.

We’ve had an architectural study of the building [in 2013] and that study has shown us that we are at or beyond capacity right now, and we’re also trying to plan for 20 years into the future for what the community’s going to need in order for this airport to continue to serve the community,” said airport manager Rob Blackburn.

Council must decide if the grant was approved on how to get resident’s approval to borrow its project cost share: through an alternative approval process that stops the loan with a 10 per cent disapproval, or a yea or nay referendum with a majority decision. A referendum would cost slightly more money to hold, but Bachrach said he supports the idea as a way to better gauge residents’ support.

Just Posted

Search and Rescue needs more funds to finish new facility

Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue Group meets at Ranger Park building but have outgrown the space.

VIDEO: Smithers get its first augmented reality sandbox

Locals got to experience a bit of augmented reality last Wednesday

A diabetes information session will be held this Friday

Smithereens will get a chance to learn more about type I and type II diabetes this week

Kanna Kurihara leads Otters in Prince George

Kanna Kurihara, 10, turned heads at the meet with superb technical abilities in 100 freestyle win.

Wintergold weekend

One of the oldest Christmas craft fairs in Smithers is this Friday and Saturday.

Man linked to Shuswap farm where human remains found to appear in court

A rally will be held on the Vernon courthouse steps prior to Curtis Sagmoen’s appearance

B.C. snow plow operator helps save elderly man

The 73-year-old man had fallen at his isolated home, and finally was able to call for help

Wildlife group challenges B.C.’s interpretation of law on destroying bears

Fur-Bearers are challenging a conservation officer’s decision to kill a bear cub near Dawson Creek

Tourism numbers continue to climb in B.C.

The majority of international travellers to British Columbia are coming from Australia

Canadian screen stars want ‘action’ from industry meeting on sexual misconduct

‘Of course there’s been sexual harassment here. Absolutely. No question.’

VIDEO: Search for missing B.C. dog walker remains a ‘rescue effort’

Annette Poitras was last seen walking three dogs on Monday afternoon

Accused in violent Kamloops burglary charged with attempted murder

Accused in violent Kamloops burglary, home invasion charged with attempted murder; victim remains in hospital

Cannabidiol products available in Summerland

Products contain medical benefits of cannabis, but with no psychoactive properties

Most Read