North Battleford and Unity have both been successful in their applications for funding for airport runway repairs.
The provincial government announced Friday that North Battleford will be receiving $25,000 towards runway repairs to Cameron McIntosh Airport.
Unity will be receiving $37,500, which will go to the repaving of the runway at their airport.
The funding is through the Community Airport Partnership program designed to help offset the costs of upgrades. It is a cost-sharing program where the province would share the cost of repairs 50-50 with the municipal government.
North Battleford and Unity are among 15 community airports approved for funding under the program. The two communities receiving the lion’s share of the funding this year are Estevan, receiving $131,231 for rehabilitation of the main apron, and Yorkton, receiving $165,637 for runway and taxiway repairs, drainage rehabilitation, fencing, apron and taxiway expansion.
Also four communities – Biggar, Birch Hills, Gravelbourg and Melfort – are receiving funding for the first time under the program.
In a statement, provincial highways and infrastructure minister Jim Reiter said the provincial portion of the cost-sharing initiative will remain at $700,000 for this year, after being increased last year by 40 percent to meet the demand.
“By partnering with communities, we’re ensuring a network of airports with dependable infrastructure is in place to enhance economic development in sectors like tourism, oil and gas and agriculture as well as assist in delivering air ambulance, medivac and STARS emergency services,” said Reiter.
North Battleford has stepped up its focus on airport upgrades in the past months in the wake of widespread interest in attracting the WestJet Regional airline that announced launch plans earlier this year.
WestJet Regional is targeting smaller communities as part of its potential route map starting in 2013. Last week, the airline announced Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft would make up their initial fleet.
Support was expressed both at city council and by the Battlefords Chamber of Commerce to ensure the infrastructure at Cameron McIntosh Airport could handle regular commercial flights. The city adjusted its 2012 budget to allow North Battleford to apply under the Community Airport Partnership program to take advantage of the 50-50 dollars that were available for runway repairs this year.
Mayor Ian Hamilton told the News-Optimist Monday the city remains interested in attracting a scheduled air passenger service to the airport.
The City’s efforts towards attracting WestJet Regional are part of a joint effort along with the cities of Prince Albert and Lloydminster, with all three planning to meet with WestJet officials to discuss the proposed airline.
“We will be initiating discussions with WestJet to see whether or not we fit in to their plans with respect to regional service,” said Hamilton, who said the City “remains very interested.”
Hamilton says he plans to meet with the mayors of Prince Albert and Lloydminster next week in Humboldt at the city mayor’s caucus, where that effort will likely be one of the issues discussed.