BY BILL PHILLIPS
Hello YXS … clear Runway 01-19 … we’ve got $2.3 million coming in for a landing.
The $2.3 million in federal funding is half the cost of repairing the degraded Runway 01-19 and two aprons. The Prince George Airport Authority will pick up the rest of the tab $4.7 million price tag.
“We are incredibly proud to be a part of this project,” said Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North–Seymour, who flew into the Prince George Airport Tuesday morning announce the funding. “The Prince George Airport is located in a strategic corridor linking North America to Asia.”
He said the project will increase airport capacity and safety.
“This is important because the runway serves commercial aircraft, air tankers, and emergency operations,” he said, adding the project will create an estimated 40 jobs during construction. “It also ensures that the Prince George Airport remains a key supporter of economic activity in the province.”
The funding is part of Transportation 2030, which is the federal government’s plan to build a transportation system that supports trade and a cleaner environment, Beech said. In July 2017, the federal government announced the Trade and Corridors Initiative, which will see $2 billion spent on trade corridor initiatives over next 11 years.
“We can have the best products in the world, but if you can’t get them to customers quickly and reliably, you’ll lose business to other suppliers,” said Beech.
Prince George Airport president and CEO John Gibson, who personally lobbied Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, was very happy with the funding.
“This is a fabulous day for the City of Prince George and the Prince George Airport,” he said. “For eight years the PGAA has been striving for funding for small airports on federal land, for predominantly safety and capacity reasons … Without the funding the airport would not have the cash to perform the rehabilitation.”
Without the funding, he said, there were two options: Close the runway, which would make the airport more congested and costly to operate; and/or the cost to the travelling public would go up.
The runway is mostly used as a taxi-way for commercial operators and the B.C. Forest Service air tankers. The aprons are used by commercial cargo operators, the RCMP, and helicopters.
“These surface areas badly need rehabilitation in order to sustain existing services as well as support the growth at YXS,” he said. “Earlier this year the federal government approved the foreign trade zone designation for the City of Prince George … With today’s announcement and the foreign trade zone designation, the northern trade corridor has a real opportunity to attract foreign trade investment for Prince George.”
The project will tendered in January and completed by October 2019.