Airport gets $60,000 for concrete upgrades

Funding will go to preventative maintenance of concrete aprons.

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett

Sometimes a little preventative maintenance goes a long way.

That’s the thinking behind a $60,000 provincial government grant for the Canadian Rockies International Airport that will go towards upgrading a concrete apron to improve safety.

The money is coming out of the B.C. Air Access program, a fund dedicated to improving airport infrastructure across the province.

“It’s been really fantastic to see the B.C. Air Access program in effect for the last three years now,” said CRIA managing director Tristen Chernove. “Specifically, B.C. Air Access program has been working at airports throughout the province and what we had applied for — within our obligation to the province for this — was what we noted as required work on our apron a few years ago.

“This is a fantastic concrete apron that we have but it’s at the point of its life where if we don’t address it, it’s going to require more than rehabilitation to replacement.

This allows us to probably get another 30 years — through this rehab project — out of this concrete apron and essentially we’re resealing all of the cracks between the concrete panels to keep water infiltration out and repair a bunch of the spalling that’s starting to occur.”

Chernove added that spending the $60,000 to rehabilitate the concrete apron is a much more appealing option than having to replace it, which would run roughly $1 million.

“This is critical to the safety to the airport, a critical project to our infrastructure here and it’s just another aspect of keeping this airport a key access point for the East Kootenay and an economic catalyst for the region,” Chernove said.

CRIA is owned by the City of Cranbrook, and is an integral part of generating economic activity for the area, says Mayor Lee Pratt.

“We’re constantly promoting our airport and looking for more carriers to come in here so we have to make sure we maintain it up to a high standard,” Pratt said. “These are things that have to be done and with the help of the provincial government, we’re going to be able to do it and carry on with what our plans are for the future of the airport.”

Bill Bennett, the MLA for Kootenay East, announced the funding on behalf of the provincial government, noting that the airport is a key piece of infrastructure in the region for a myriad of reasons, including tourism.

“We’ve got one of the most beautiful places on earth, but if you can’t get to it, as tourism experts will tell you, it’s okay to have a really nice, beautiful place to come, but people don’t come unless it’s easy to get to,” Bennett said.

“That means you got to have a well-functioning, modern airport with a long enough strip and all the facilities and radar and lighting and everything else that’s needed, so this $60,000 is coming out of a Ministry of Transportation fund that is specifically targeted to improving airports in the province.”

Over the past three years, the provincial government has provided $24 million to the B.C. Air Access program, including $10 million this year.