John Rustad

John Rustad

Airport’s runway project starts next week

Airport society has received all the necessary funding to resurface runway

Work on the resurfacing project of Baker Airport’s runway is set to begin next week now that the Lakes District Airport Society (LDAS) has received all the necessary funding.

Although Lakes District residents voted in a Feb. 27 referendum to increase their taxes in order to resurface the airport’s runway, there was still a shortfall of $258,000 to complete the project.

Last week, MLA for Nechako Lakes John Rustad delivered a cheque of $552,000 from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure toward the project.

In addition, over the past few months, the airport has also received $275,000 in federal gas tax funds; $125,000 from the Northern Development Initiative Trust, $200,000 from the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society; $30,000 from Burns Lake Comfor; $30,000 from TransCanada; $20,000 from LDAS; and approximately $150,000 from the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s (RDBN) capital reserve withdraw.

Due to this recent funding, the amount of money that was needed to borrow to complete the project, which is quoted at $1.55 million, has been significantly reduced – from $675,000 to $166,715.

According to Bill Miller, RDBN chair, this means that the burden on taxpayers will also be significantly reduced.

“The taxpayer may experience little or no tax increase, seeing similar taxes to current year,” said Miller.

The RDBN says the completion of this project will ensure that Baker Airport continues to provide safe, reliable facilities for air access, which is essential to the development of the Lakes District.

“The runway resurfacing will help ensure the airport remains operational for medevac and emergency services and accessible for our residents and businesses,” said Miller. “After much hard work, it is with great pleasure that we celebrate the partnerships that have made this project possible.”

According to Reg Blackwell, LDAS President, not resurfacing the runway could’ve resulted in the closure of the airport. He explained that although the current condition of the runway is safe, large pieces of asphalt have been cracking away from the main runway.

Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold said the Baker Airport is a vital asset to the community.

“Our residents rely on it for medical evac services as well as forest fire protection and emergency services,” he said. “Resurfacing the runway will ensure the continued safety of the Lakes District and we are very grateful to the funding organizations for their support.”

The contractor chosen to complete the project was LB Paving Ltd. According to the company, work on the runway will start on July 27 and is expected to be completed by mid August, depending on the weather.