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Airport project paves the way for economic development

The City of Cold Lake will take advantage of lower-than-expected construction and paving costs to substantially enhance its regional aerodrome’s taxiways, paving the way for economic development initiatives at the air strip.

“We’ve had some businesses kicking the tires at the Regional Airport and we know that, because of its unique location, there will be interest from more businesses in the future,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “This project will ensure that the aerodrome can expand and serve a wide variety of interests – from general aviation enthusiasts to businesses that need access to an air strip.”

The Cold Lake Aerodrome’s business plan called for enhancing its grass taxiways to a paved standard in three future phases. Administration was in the process of tendering a single phase of the project when favourable pricing revealed an opportunity to have all three phases completed.

Council voted to increase the project’s budget from $1.2 million to $1.7 million to complete all three phases, inclusive of contingencies for the project. Phase 1 will service the existing hangars, while Phase 2 will expand paved taxiways to the west, servicing future general aviation lots. The third and final phase of taxiway enhancements will service lots to the west intended specifically for commercial use.

The project will be completed in 2019 with funds already committed to the airport, grant money, and $500,000 committed to the project from the MD of Bonnyville.

“The MD of Bonnyville’s commitment to bettering our region has really allowed us the chance to take advantage of favourable conditions to accomplish much more than we otherwise could,” Copeland said. “This project will ultimately fix issues that existing users have voiced over the current level of service at the airport, while also creating the conditions needed for businesses to feel comfortable investing in the site as well.”

A recent report released by the Northeast Alberta HUB and the city’s new Economic Development Strategy, both note that the City of Cold Lake and its regional aerodrome are uniquely positioned to take advantage of business opportunities in the aerospace sector. With businesses’ interest in the facility increasing, coupled with low prices for completing the work, council felt it an opportune time to complete the work.

“We can’t sit and wait for business to come to us,” Copeland said. “Part of our economic reality is that we will need to make strategic investments that can help to create the conditions businesses need to plant roots here and to thrive. The end result will be a diversified economy and more jobs for our residents.”