Spectators take in the air show during Airport Appreciation Day at the Shuswap Regional Airport. (File photo)

City considers borrowing half-a-million dollars for airport upgrade

Salmon Arm receives unexpected grant for taxiway at Shuswap Regional Airport

The City of Salmon Arm will be seeking public approval to borrow half-a-million-dollars after receiving an unanticipated grant for upgrades at Shuswap Regional Airport.

In August, city council supported a recommendation from staff to accept British Columbia Air Access Program (BCAAP) grant funding of up to $520,000, or 50 per cent of the total eligible project cost for the construction of Taxiway Charlie.

As engineering and public works director Rob Niewenhuizen explained to council, the city submitted a grant application in 2016 to the BCAAP for the new/upgraded taxiway’s construction, but was unsuccessful. However, in July of this year, the city received notification from the BCAAP that the project had been revisited and subsequently approved for 50 per cent funding.

“Unfortunately, now we’ve got a bit of hoops to jump through… because we have to come up with the other $520,000,” said Niewenhuizen, noting the city would most likely seek public approval through the alternative approval process to borrow the needed funding.

In his report to council, Niewenhuizen notes signing the BCAAP agreement for the grant does not bind the city in any way to complete the project.

Related: Airport looks to extend runway (2015)

The report states the upgrade will result in two main benefits: it will allow the majority of landing aircraft in both directions to exit the runway, reducing total time an aircraft occupies the runway, thereby increasing physical capacity; and it will open up areas for general aviation-related development, increasing the economic capacity of the airport.

“Presently, the taxiway is a diagonal piece… The problem with that taxiway is it takes up all of the space where we want to put the hangers…,” explained Coun. Alan Harrison, council’s representative on the Shuswap Regional Airport Operations Committee. “So by moving the taxiway there, we can access fuel, we can access those new hangars and the air strip part way down, which is key in the development of our airport.

“As directors discussed, today’s motion is just to acknowledge and accept the grant of over half a million. When the time comes for us to come up with the other half, I think it is important for council to know it probably would be an alternative approval process… but that wouldn’t be well into next year.”

Harrison’s fellow councillors were reluctant to turn down the grant.

“Now it kind of skews the budgeting process and we have to borrow a half a million dollars, but it’s worth it,” said Coun. Ken Jamieson.

Related: In photos: Airport Appreciation Day

At a subsequent council meeting, Salmon Arm’s mayor and council approved a budgeting amendment and the waiving of the city’s procurement policy to award the contract to design Taxiway Charlie to WSP Canada Inc. for an estimated cost of $108,272 plus taxes.

In a related report, Niewenhuizen explains design costs are not covered in the BCAAP grant and “the detailed design and Class A estimate are required prior to proceeding with the alternative approval process.”

“Due to tight timelines and limited availability of aviation engineers, the city approached WSP Canada Inc. to provide a proposal for the design and contract administration services association with the Taxiway Charlie project,” writes Niewenhuizen, noting WSP is familiar with the airport having completed the 2015 Shuswap Regional Airport Development Plan in which Taxiway Charlie is proposed.

Funding for the design would come from the reallocation of $55,000 from general revenue and $55,000 from the Shuswap Street sidewalk replacement project.


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