The Lakes District Airport Society is hoping to purchase an automated refueling station for the Baker Airport in Burns Lake.
“The system we have right now is obsolete. So we want to do a complete overhaul of the system with a totally self-served, credit card-like system. But it is extremely expensive. We are now going after grants, the airport society has donated money, so that’s where we are at right now,” said the Lakes District Airport Society (LDAS) president Reg Blackwell.
Earlier this year, the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society (NKDF) granted $30,000 to the airport society for purchasing the fueling system. However, the overall cost of the new system is close to 270k, according to Blackwell.
The Burns Lake Airport, owned by the Village of Burns Lake and operated by LDAS under a long-term lease, is funded by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) through a sub-regional service that taxes properties in the participating jurisdictions, which are the village and Electoral Areas B and E.
“Regional district is working on that for us because we really need it upgraded. The wiring and the work on the building was done in early 90s. So we want to modernize it, upgrade it and make it more convenient. Especially for summer times,” he said.
The Baker Airport is frequented by tourists, flights making a pit stop for refueling and by the emergency services.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCHES) recorded a total of 82 air ambulance flights in and out of the Burns Lake Airport from 2018 to 2020, with 25 flights in 2018, 23 in 2019 and 34 in 2020. The BCEHS air ambulances respond to critical hospital transfers as well as emergency 9-1-1 medical calls and the Burns Lake Airport has been a crucial addition in servicing emergency cases.
According to Blackwell, while travel slowed down this year, the society is hoping it will pick up this year. He said that the airport had taken a little bit of a hit because of COVID and the society hoped that this type of an upgraded system would help improve things as well.
The airport society would also prefer to pour in money towards a new system instead of making any repairs to the outdated system and are hopeful that they are able to raise enough to put the new system in this year. So far they have raised little more than a third of the money.
Anyone who wants to make a donation towards the new fueling system can reach out to Blackwell on 250-692-0507.
“The new system will have all the environmental containment, wiring upgrades and that’s why we decided to go this route even though it is expensive,” he said. “But anything to improve the airport and attract more attention.”