Small Airports Continue to Press for Dollars
Prince George, B.C. – The Prince George Airport continues to work towards securing infrastructure funding from the Federal Government.
The problem is, YXS is classed as a National Airport System airport because it sits on land leased from the Federal Government. As an NAS airport, YXS is one of 6 such airports in the country which don’t qualify for those dollars.
YXS President and CEO John Gibson says progress on trying to land those dollars is slow ” I thought we (NAS) had made some inroads, the Liberals had promised we would have funding, there is no money in the (federal) budget, so we are clinging to the hope it will be in the next budget for next year. So we are starting to make plans to get that funding. We’re in every Ottawa office, sub infrastructure, finance, treasury board, pushing it. We’re also looking for increased funding for all small airports and Mr. Emerson in his report recommend that both those( funding options) happen for the small NAS as well as the rest of the airports, so we just keep on pushing.”
Former Cabinet Minister David Emerson released his review on Canada’s Air transport industry last month, but the Federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau is taking the summer to go over the report before announcing any decisions.
The Prince George Airport’s 10 year capital plan has a price tag of between $50 and $60 million dollars, and that’s for upgrading and maintaining existing infrastructure.
Recently, the BC Chamber of Commerce supported a resolution from the Prince George Chamber, calling on the Federal Government to make those infrastructure funds available to the 6 small airports which don’t currently qualify. That resolution is helpful says Gibson “Because it’s broad, even just the 6 (NAS) airports ourselves, can’t muster enough political push to get it done, so we’re packaging it all together with up to 150 airports that are impacted by what’s going forward for increased funding.” Gibson says while the Federal Government takes about $300 million dollars out of the airport system in rent alone, it only puts $38 million back into small airport financing.
Gibson says bumping up the annual funding for small airports to $75 million a year may sound like a lot of money, but in the scope of airports across the country it’s a small figure “That’s 75 miles of road, and here you are, impacting all these airports all over the country , so we don’t think in a National budgeting standpoint it’s a big number.”