The mayors of Red Deer and Red Deer County met with the federal transport minister on Tuesday and highlighted the need for customs service at Red Deer Regional Airport among other issues.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra sat down with local political leaders at The Donut Mill in Gasoline Alley while travelling between Edmonton and Calgary.
Among the issues the local mayors hope to see some action on is getting customs service approved so passengers can be processed should passenger service be resumed in the future. The airport is planning to build a new terminal able to handle the nearly 200 passengers carried in a full 737-800.
Terminal construction is expected to start this year for a fall 2024 completion date.
The mayors also pushed for funding through the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP), which requires eligible airports to offer year-round regularly scheduled commercial passenger service.
“We asked how that works and whether there was any room for possible relaxations of some of those requirements,” said Wood.
Wood said he also pressed the minister on finding a way to end the port workers strike in Vancouver.
“I urged him strongly to try to get this strike solved because it definitely has a huge impact on the economy of our country. There’s got to be a balance between labour and the economy.”
Alghabra assured him the government was trying to resolve the impasse.
Also raised was the importance of a high-speed rail link between Edmonton and Calgary and the need to ensure rights-of-way are secured in advance.
“He saw the need for it,” but Alghabra made it clear that Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors has to take the lead.
Wood said while the minister appeared supportive the message was clear that the provincial government is expected to take a leadership role in many of the issues raised with the federal government acting as a partner.
Mayor Ken Johnston agreed the minister was keenly interested in the opportunities that the airport’s development presents.
The federal government plays a role in airport safety and regulations, and can provide funding through ACAP.
The importance of federal housing support was also brought up. While some of the issues are not part of Alghabra’s portfolio, it was still an opportunity to pass them on during a sit-down meeting with a federal minister.
“We took full advantage of it that’s for sure,” said Johnston of the 45-minute meeting.
Johnston said the meeting speaks well about how Central Alberta is becoming more of an economic focus, and the positive working relationship between Red Deer city and county.
“These are things that really need to happen to help all of us here in the Central Alberta corridor,” he said about discussions between the governments.
Wood said all of the topics raised and the federal response will be discussed with Transportation and Economic Corridors Minister Devin Dreeshen.