A preliminary design drawing of Taxiway Charlie, the T-shaped dark grey form that will run parallel to the white runway above. It will replace Taxiway Bravo, which is the light, double-dotted line that runs diagonally under Taxiway Charlie. The design may be subject to change. (City of Salmon Arm image)

New taxiway plan for Salmon Arm Airport taking off

City must go through alternative approval process to borrow $845,000

Taxiway Charlie is on its way, if Salmon Arm citizens don’t object.

The project will entail the borrowing of about $800,000 by the city, but will provide what members of council describe as a long-awaited improvement.

In 2015, the city completed an Airport Development Plan for the Salmon Arm Airport that included as Phase 1 the relocation and upgrade of Taxiway Bravo, which would become Taxiway Charlie.

In July last year, the city received word it had been approved for funding to the tune of $520,000 from the BC Air Access Program. The estimated cost to complete the project, including a 15 per cent contingency, would be about $1.3 million. The city must now launch what’s called an alternative approval process for long-term borrowing of the remaining $845,000.

Read more: City considers borrwing half-a-million dollars for airport upgrade

The process means that if anyone is opposed, they must sign a petition. That petition must contain signatures of five per cent of electors by June 24 in order for the borrowing to go to referendum.

Repayment of the funds would equal $65,000 per year, with the first payment made in the 2021 budget.

The city’s chief financial officer Chelsea Van de Cappelle said the payment would be covered by new revenues.

If citizens support the plan, construction is expected to start in the fall.

City council expressed enthusiasm for the project at its Monday, March 25 meeting, with all those present voting in favour. Coun. Tim Lavery was absent.

Read more: Runway incursion at Trail airport under investigation

Read more: Airports feared losing revenue to Uber and Lyft. Here’s what happened

Read more: Despite heavy smoke, flights still getting into and out of Kelowna’s airport

A lane branching downwards in the middle of the proposed taxiway is intended to allow for construction of four large hangers, which would provide revenue.

Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering, explained that now, depending on which way planes land, they sometimes have to taxi all the way back to Taxiway Alpha. In the future, the taxiway would be parallel to the runway, making the airport more efficient with more capacity.

Niewenhuizen also pointed out that Taxiway Bravo is gravel, so pilots are nervous about taxiing on it.

Coun. Chad Eliason, previously council’s rep on the city’s airport committee, pointed out the city has been working on the plan since 2005. He said a parallel taxiway is the most efficient, noting they are used by top airports such as Kelowna and San Diego.

Along with expanding the airport’s commercial area, Eliason said the most important reason is it supports wildfire crews and air ambulances.

Read more: Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Coun. Kevin Flynn emphasized the importance of the grant and the fact the city would lose it if the project was to not proceed.

Coun. Debbie Cannon said her husband is a pilot and belongs to the flying club. She said they’re all happy that not only will the taxiway be paved, but the configuration will be changed.

“I know the pilots up there are excited about this.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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