Airport realizes goal of money for de-icing equipment

Red Deer Regional Airport’s dreams of buying de-icing equipment has taken off.

Red Deer Regional Airport’s dreams of buying de-icing equipment has taken off.

On Monday, Red Deer city council supported removing up to $525,000 out of the city’s tax stabilization reserve so that the airport authority could buy the equipment.

The money will not impact the 2011 operating budget or taxpayers’ bottom line.

The city had already approved $150,000 in 2010 for the de-icing facility, which includes a truck.

Earlier this month, authority chairman Bernie Papp said another $600,000 was needed because during tendering last fall, prices rose to $1.5 million.

Red Deer County had since approved giving $750,000 in total and now the city was being asked to do the same.

Council was told on Monday that the request had dropped to $525,000 from $600,000 because $75,000 was to be paid by the federal government program, Western Economic Diversification.

Papp said the project will be retendered this spring in hopes of reducing the cost.

Chief executive officer Cyril Cooper said the de-icing facility is essential in attracting a major passenger carrier or to increase levels of scheduled service.

With some reservations, council supported giving the money because it’s hoped that one day, the airport will be able to thrive on its own without annual dollars from the city and the county.

The city has been providing about $185,000 annually over the last 10 years.

Councillor Chris Stephan opposed the deal because he felt the airport doesn’t have a strong enough business case to warrant such equipment.

“I’d like to see if we can’t get enough interest where these carriers say, ‘we’ll come to Red Deer if you have a de-icing facility’,” Stephan said.