Airport improvements taking flight

The Dawson Creek Airport is getting more than a half million for airport improvements from the Federal Government.

The Feds announced $621,875 in funding for three projects at the airport under the Airports Capital Assistance Program. 

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The lion’s share is for maintenance equipment, with over half ($318,160) going towards a new runway sweeper, and $264,660 for a new plow truck with reversible plow. 

A runway sweeper is a specialized street sweeper keeping the runway clear of debris for planes taking off and landing at the airport. 

Debris on the runway such as gravel and bits of rubber can be a hazard to planes taking off and landing. Keeping the runway clean is one of the key safety features of an airport. 

The remaining $39,055 will go to purchase a runway condition reporting system. 

“This is automated,” says airport manager Ian Darling. 

“It sits in the truck, and the boys go out there to do friction testing in winter. They just push a button and it all goes to Ottawa. It’s all automatic. It’s a beautiful system.”

Last year, the city approved funding for new windows and an overhang to cover the sidewalks in front of arrivals and departures. Darling says the windows have been done, and the overhangs should be done by the end of this year. 

“I wanted the sidewalks covered in to protect them from ice and snow. You get old people coming up the sidewalk, and they have difficulty. We try and keep the sidewalks clean as best we can, but sometimes you don’t have time because you’re out there cleaning the runway. Covering this in will alleviate that. We’re also putting new concrete in. That will be done right away.”

The new windows are smaller than the floor to ceiling windows that were in there before, but will hopefully cut down on some of the radiant heat in the building. 

“You get too much heat in there in summertime,” he says. “Eventually I want to renovate the inside, and put in drop ceilings, but I couldn’t do that if the windows are right to the ceiling.”

Darling is hoping that Transport Canada will approve sub-surface drainage improvements sometime soon, though that project will cost an estimated $7 million. 

“That would be totally paid for by Transport Canada.” We need that, because there’s lots of water under the whole airport. The sub-surface drainage is as old as the airport. We’ve done some scoping with a camera and the pipes down there are getting clogged with calcium.”

The funding is part of ongoing upgrades at the airport. Two years ago, the airport received $82,311 from the air access program for security upgrades, CCTV and repairs for a leaky terminal roof.

Darling says lengthening the runway is part of the long-term plans for the airport. 

The cost of a runway expansion would run anywhere from $4 to $5 million, Darling said, adding that could realistically take three to four years to complete.               

 

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