Thursday , 21 October 2021

Flying into Elk Point

Photo Credit: Crystal Pinette. ribbon cutting ceremony for Elk Point Airport grand re-opening July 25, 2019.
left to right: Jonny Neilsen, Myron Goyan, Kim Foisy, Terri Hampson, Darrell Younghans, Geoff Hoyle, Jason Boorse, Dave Hanson, Kevin Wirsta, Jay Brown, Paul Ouwerkerk, Dave Winch, Lorne Young 

Celebrating its second grand opening in 34 years, the Elk Point airdrome was the location of a short ceremony and a barbeque lunch on Thursday, July 25.

Airport Commission chair and mayor of Elk Point Lorne Young explained that the need for electrical lighting upgrades was the catalyst for improvements. Paul Ouwerkerk of ISAL Engineering confirmed that the new LED low wattage lamps are the most advanced type of lights in the world, with a 25 year life span. Head engineer for this project, he told the crowd of about 30 guests and local residents that the lamps are low maintenance and will provide efficient operation in all weather conditions.

The runway was paved about five years ago, but engineers from ISAL indicated that there were still deficiencies that affected the overall safety of the airdrome, especially in regards to night flights. Now, with up-to-date facilities, it is suitable for Medi-Vac and commercial flights at any time of day.

The central location and improvements mean the airdrome is convenient for oil and gas, agriculture, tourism, commerce, and forest fire suppression sectors of the economy. Currently it is a base for a crop dusting business. At just three feet shorter than the Bonnyville landing strip, and with fewer potential impediments, Elk Point’s airdrome is competitive in the local market.

A grant from the provincial government was matched through a number of sources to cover the $491,000 bill: the Town of Elk Point and the County of St. Paul #19 committed about $41,000 each, while other funds were provided by Enbridge ($10,000), Canadian Natural Resources ($5,000), Elk Point and District Lions ($5,000) and Elk Point Elks Lodge #460 ($5,000).

Dignitaries at the grand opening commended Elk Point’s CAO Ken Gwozdz with having kept pushing for the upgrades to provide a facility that is viable, safe and convenient. Dave Hanson, MLA for Bonnyville/Cold Lake/St. Paul, said the airdrome will help to “keep moving forward to attract people to the area.”

Kevin Wirsta, a councillor and representative for the County of St. Paul on the airport commission, supports the facility as “a great contribution to the development of Alberta’s northeast.”

Kim Foisy, Service Landman for CNRL in the Elk Point Area, and Jay Brown, Community Indigenous Engagement with Enbridge, acknowledged that their corporations like being involved in community projects that can have a lasting impact.

Representing their community service groups, Lions president Jason Boorse observed that “there isn’t one major project in Elk Point that Lions haven’t helped out with,” and Exalted Ruler of the Elks Lodge #460, Geoff Hoyle said the Elks are “here to support the town” and are “pretty proud of the airport upgrades.”

Also involved in the ceremony were Elk Point Town Councillor Terri Hampson, and Alberta Transportation Grants Technologist Dave Winch.

Individuals interested in using the airstrip are directed to call the Town of Elk Point at
780 724 3810.

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