Premier Jason Kenney was at Red Deer Regional Airport on Monday to announce $7.5 million in provincial cash to go towards an $18 million airport expansion and upgrade project. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

Premier Jason Kenney was at Red Deer Regional Airport on Monday to announce $7.5 million in provincial cash to go towards an $18 million airport expansion and upgrade project. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

Red Deer County tweaking budget to meet $3.75 million airport commitment

$18 million project for airport runway upgrades and new terminal to start this spring

Red Deer County council will be asked to approve bumping up the amount it had budgeted for Red Deer Regional Airport this year.

When the Alberta government approved $7.5 million for airport improvements in this year’s budget, the money was not expected to be coming until 2023, says a report going to county council on Tuesday. The county and City of Red Deer had committed to matching the funding with $3.75 million each.

However, after review the province freed up the money this year, allowing the airport to go to tender on the project to widen the main runway to 45 metres from 30 metres and to upgrade a taxiway and apron.

In total, the airport authority has proposed an $18-million project that will also see a new terminal built, which is expected to be a key upgrade to attract a low-cost air carrier to the airport, which has not had scheduled passenger service for a number of years.

Tenders for the upgrades have already gone out and the deadline is Friday.

While the fast tracking is good news, it required some budget fiddling at the county. Just over $2 million was in this year’s budget for the airport, meaning about $1.7 million must be added to meet the county’s commitment.

Council will vote on a Tuesday on a recommendation to release the money already in the budget and add another $1.7 million.

In a report to council, administration outlined the benefits of investing in the airport and the runway improvements that will allow larger aircraft to land and improve the financial stability of the airport.

“This will, in turn, reduce the need for future financial assistance from the county and the city,” says the report.

Besides luring a passenger service provider, the upgrades will benefit existing airport businesses and help attract new aviation-related services to the 200 acres of airport land available for development. At full build-out, well over $2 million in annual lease revenue could be generated.



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