A screenshot from a Smithers Regional Airport camera taken Dec. 7.

Airport earns award for Town of Smithers

The $8.48-million airport expansion is 30 per cent complete.

The Town of Smithers was one of seven government entities to be the first to receive a Best of Public Procurement Award from the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA).

It received the award for the Smithers Regional Airport expansion and modernization project.

“At the end of the day council awards the contract, but really … credit for this award goes to our staff team on the airport project and the consultants that they worked with,” said Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach.

The airport is on track to stay within its third budget amount of $8.48 million after two increases to the cost, which was originally set at $6 million. The Town is borrowing $3 million. The provincial and federal governments are chipping in $4 million, and the rest is coming from other grants and funding sources.

“Our goal is to have a fair and transparent procurement process and I think that this recognition shows that we’re achieving that goal,” said Bachrach.

Airport manager Rob Blackburn gave a short tour of the construction site to The Interior News.

He expects walls to go up in January. The timeline was delayed a couple weeks because of the heavy snow that fell and had to be cleared while ground works were still exposed in a hole beside the current airport. But with such a long timeline to June 2019 completion, that is expected to level out.

Councillor Phil Brienesse’s update report at last Tuesday’s council meeting showed the expansion is 30 per cent complete. Key elements completed include removal of contaminated soil, removal of old boarding lounge, installation of temporary boarding lounge, installation of geo-thermal heating tubes, installation of gravity storm sewer and roof water runoff systems, and floor joists.

Bachrach was asked if lessons from being awarded a procurement prize could be applied to future big projects like the planned arts and culture centre for the library and art gallery.

“The Town has a purchasing policy which guides all of our procurement for projects big and small … We’re always looking for ways to strengthen our procurement process,” said the mayor.

He added while Smithers has a buy local policy, it is not defined as to how far withing the Bulkley Valley is local. It also can’t apply to very large projects like the airport.

Vector Projects out of Kelowna is the contractor. It also did work on the Moricetown Health Centre, Smithers RCMP station and Bulkley Valley District Hospital.

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The ground floor is coming together. Walls are expected to start going up in January. Chris Gareau photo

There are about eight workers on site to work on the Smithers airport expansion. Vector Projects Group based out of Kelowna was hired to complete the job. Chris Gareau photo

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