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Wednesday , 28 October 2020

M.D. of Bonnyville negotiating for full control of Bonnyville Regional Airport

The Town and M.D. of Bonnyville have agreed to enter into negotiations for the M.D. to take full control of the Bonnyville Regional Airport.

Reeve Greg Sawchuk said airport users were interested in having improvements done to the airport and the M.D. was in the best position to do it.

Plus, most of the air traffic in and out of the airport are oilfield workers going to camps and travelling within the municipality.

“We did have a project stalled last year. So in wanting to get some improvements done at the airport, we felt so maybe the best option now is to go ahead and ask the Town to have us take it over,” said Sawchuk.

The Bonnyville Regional Airport is shared in operations and capital costs fifty-fifty between the Town and M.D.

Mayor Gene Sobolewski said the idea has a lot of merit since the airport lands are in the M.D., a couple kilometres north of Bonnyville.

“We’ve always had these issues with trying to move projects forward or try and get funding for projects and the Town, we have rather limited funds and it is coming to a bit of a head,” he said.

“I’ve always believed that the M.D. is much better suited in terms of being able to govern and manage the airport. I still think it’s probably going to be joint to some extent, but I do see this as a positive.”

The M.D. of Bonnyville is pursuing taxiway improvements to bring up the airport’s standards.

Sawchuk said you can walk along the taxiway and your boots will leave imprints.

“It is so soft. When the initial testing was done, they found out the blacktop on the taxiway was essentially laid on top of black dirt and so there is no base there whatsoever,” he said.

“So that has to be fixed up before we have a plane actually fall through the oiling that’s out there.”

Sawchuk said this will allow airplanes to land from the east to exit the main runway, which also makes it safe for users.

In the future, the M.D. may consider an “air park” or more development to allow for more flying.

“We already have an industrial park just north of there and part of that plan for that park was to be somewhat of an Air Park, and there was a taxiway that does go up the east side of that.

“We’ve also had some interest in developing on the east end of the runways. Whether or not we couldn’t have something similar to what Wetaskiwin does, where you have acreages where aviation enthusiasts have their home, a little hanger, and they have the ability to drive right from their home to the runway. That’s another one that’s being thrown out there.

“Anything to spur a little bit of economic development at this point in time is I think what we need to do.”

How this affects the Town and M.D.’s agreements on shared services is not yet known, but will be decided once the airport changes hands.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.