The Smithers Regional Airport is three for three.
This week, the Town of Smithers announced they had received funding for two more pieces of equipment through the federal government’s Airports Capital Assistance Program. One is to purchase a runway sweeper for just more than $208,000 and the second is to buy a plow truck and plow, with a price tag of $259,000.
In March, the town was also successful in securing about $255,000 to replace an aging ramp hog plow, a piece of equipment used to clear snow around the terminal.
“Our airport equipment has been aging and maintenance has become an expense and it’s time to replace these pieces of equipment,” Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach said. “It will be something that will make it easier for us to operate really efficient airport services for the travelling public.”
To receive three ACAP grants in the same year is unusual, Bachrach noted, especially since the town had been unsuccessful in its last six attempts to secure funding.
“It is somewhat unprecedented and it’s certainly something we hoped for but we didn’t expect it,” he said. “I’d like to give kudos to our airport manager, Rob Blackburn, for his work on this.”
Last December, the town held a meeting with Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen and asked for their help in securing the funding. Both men wrote letters to federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, expressing how important the facility is to the town and the region.
The funding announcements come at a great time for the Town of Smithers. They recently opened up the airport lands for industrial subdivision, a marketing plan with new logo has been created and they are working on a phased terminal expansion.
“The airport has really been a strong, strategic focus of this town council and we’ve been investing a lot of resources and time trying to position our airport as a competitive facility in the region,” Bachrach said. “This funding announcement really fits into all this in a really important way.”