The Squamish Airport is receiving a $164,000 makeover.
As part of the province’s 10-year, B.C. On The Move transportation plan, a $123,000 grant was awarded through the B.C. Air Access Program and will go toward repaving the airport apron, the taxiway connecting the apron and the runway, and the taxi lanes that provide access to aviation parking.
Through the B.C. Air Access Program, the provincial government cost shares with public airports on projects such as lighting and navigational systems, runway improvements and terminal building expansion or upgrades. The District of Squamish is funding the additional $41,000 (or 25 per cent of the project’s cost).
“The runway has been rehabilitated in previous years,” Jordan Sturdy, MLA for West Vancouver Sea to Sky told The Squamish Chief after a ceremony and tour at the airport on Monday. “Now it is about taking care of the runway apron, which I see has some grass growing on it. The work will go toward repaving the apron and taxiway, so airport users like Sea to Sky Air and Blackcomb Aviation no longer have to drive through gravel to get to the runway.”
Acting Mayor Jason Blackman-Wulff was also on hand Monday for the tour and cheque unveiling.
“We saw some pretty big cracks in the pavement on the taxiway,” he said. “They certainly need to be taken care of to ensure the safety of users.”
Sturdy said the province’s $24 million aviation grant fund is a boon for smaller community airports.
But he also said more needs to be done to stimulate the Squamish airport’s economy and growth.
“I’m hearing that 70 per cent of the business here is sightseeing tourism,” he said. “And the operators here want to invest, too, but the obstacle is the opportunities at the airport are all short-term. I’m told this has to do with the Cheekye Fan hazard. Some airport clients want to invest in new aircraft, but they have no place to put them. The airport needs additional structures and longer lease opportunities. These guys are willing to invest, but they can’t on a one or three-year lease. They need 20-year leases.”
Blackman-Wulff said the district was aware of the issue.
“It’s been a discussion that’s been ongoing,” he said. “I have heard that from operators there.”
Sturdy said plans were already underway to develop a proposal to allow for longer leases at the airport.
“A process is currently at play, but it is not advanced to a place where we have a definite solution,” he said.