Airport looking for upgrades

Resurfaced runway and additional plough truck needed.

The Lakes District Airport Authority is coming off a busy summer season of activity at the Baker Airport site, but there are a few needs that have to be addressed in order for the station to excel into the future.

In an effort to get a jump on these pressing concerns, members of the airport authority recently approached the Village of Burns Lake council to state the necessity of resurfacing the runway at the airport and to seek funding options for this project as well as sending a letter to council asking for a chance to acquire one of the old village plough trucks they are possibly getting rid of later this year.

“The airport has to be paved,” said Lakes District Airport Authority (LDAA) president Reg Blackwell about the resurfacing project. “I mean it doesn’t have to be paved this summer, but it has to be paved soon. It’s starting to deteriorate and we’re just trying to get the ball rolling to line up the money. We’ve been talking with the government and nothing is for sure right now at the moment. We’re not asking the village to do it.”

When asked what government branch the LDAA has been talking to about funding for the runway, Blackwell said they are exploring all their options. He said they approached the village to discuss the need to resurface the runway because it is the village that owns Baker Airport, while the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako covers the cost of maintaining it and the LDAA possesses the long-term agreement of running it.

Blackwell confirmed the runway was resurfaced about a decade ago, but stated the work was incomplete and only involved patch-work similar to what is done with potholes.

Concerning the need for another plough truck at the airport, he said the LDAA is asking the village if there is a possibility of acquiring one of the two trucks they are likely getting rid of this year.

“We’re noting asking for free or anything like that,” said Blackwell, noting they want one of the two trucks in question. “We just asked if any are in good shape [that] we’re looking for an upgrade on ours. We’ve got some old stuff out there.”

Blackwell said the main priority of the airport authority is to keep the runway open for emergency air ambulance (medevac) services.

In 2013, 22 medevac aircraft movements were recorded at the airport and 17 have been noted so far this year. These totals do not include after hours movements.

“That includes keeping snow removed in the wintertime for medevac purposes more than anything,” he said, noting they need dependable ploughs that are not in an almost broken down state to ensure this level of service.

“Last winter we had a bit of trouble and we’re looking to upgrade to something newer. If we can get one of these village trucks I think we’re in decent shape, so that would be good.”

According to minutes from the Sept. 2 meeting of council, it was agreed to sell the airport authority one plough truck at a price of $10,000 plus tax.