The District of Sechelt has applied for a grant to improve the terminal building and upgrade parking at the Sechelt airport as part of their effort to make the site viable for regularly scheduled flights.
The Community Infra-structure Improvement Grant (CIIG), if awarded, would see the District get $250,000, half of what is needed to improve the building and parking.
Sechelt Mayor John Henderson said the District could foot the other $250,000 needed for the project if the grant application is approved.
Not being able to find matching money has resulted in grants being taken away from the airport in the past. In December of last year, $1 million in Islands Coastal Economic Trust (ICE-T) funding was yanked from the District when matching funds did not materialize.
At the time Henderson hoped a solid business plan would entice ICE-T to return the funding, but so far that business plan has not been completed.
“There’s been a lot of work done, but unfortunately, our airport consultant — hardworking, eager beaver Sandra Stoddart-Hansen — has gone in for surgery,” Henderson said. “I don’t know what the impact of that is going to be. Hopefully the surgery’s successful and she’s able to get back to work, but it’s one of the many unknowns right now.”
While the District waits for a business plan to be produced and to hear about the CIIG funding, they are proceeding with a plan to subdivide the airport lands.
“Part of any successful airport is typically leasing or selling the extra land, so it becomes part of the business model that you have. It might be used by some aircraft maintenance facility or a bunch of small spaces for couriers and others that need some access to the airport,” Henderson said. “In other words we just want to be able to lease those lands to people who might find the airport beneficial and so the leasing would help us in part pay for the airport.”
The airport advisory committee has recommended a phased-in approach to airport improvements sought by the District. Parking and terminal building improvements aside, the committee suggests phase one include a new 1,400-metre runway, upgraded lighting and navigation aids for a total estimated cost of $4 million.