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Town agrees to support $1.5 million Community Airport Program application

Money would go towards $2.2 million in runway and lighting upgrades at the Westlock Municipal Airport
The Town of Westlock and Westlock County will jointly apply for a $1.5 million Community Airport Program grant in the hopes of doing $2.2 million worth of work at the Westlock Municipal Airport.

WESTLOCK – The Town of Westlock will join with Westlock County to apply for a $1.5 million provincial Community Airport Program (CAP) grant to help fund $2.2 million worth of proposed work at Westlock Municipal Airport that includes new lights and a fresh asphalt overlay for the runway.

At their Nov. 14 meeting, town councillors voted 7-0 to sign a joint letter to apply for $1,521,400 from the program, which is one of four under the provincial Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP). Westlock County CAO Tony Kulbisky confirmed in a Nov. 16 e-mail that while the county is the managing partner of the airport and he’s prepared the application, it’s being submitted as a “joint proposal” and will be signed by both the mayor and reeve “once our council reviews and supports it via resolution” at the county’s next regular meeting on Nov. 29.

The request for decision (RFD) to town councillors says the airport runway “is in need of a complete overlay” while town CAO Simone Wiley noted the two municipalities have unsuccessfully applied for this particular grant, although without the lighting component, for the last two years. The RFD states the runway lighting also needs to be replaced and “has been a continual issue for the last number of years, with repairs being made as needed” while Wiley added that “they’re in dire need of an upgrade.”

“The difference is this application is that the county has contacted an engineering firm to get an updated estimate on the runway and the lighting so there’s an updated, actual cost that’s going in with the application so I’m hopeful that will help,” Wiley explained.

By the numbers

The total project cost being applied for is $2,282,113 ($1,066,750 for the runway and $1,215,362.50 for the lighting) with the grant providing two-thirds funding up to $1,521,400. The county, as the managing partner of the airport, holds a specific airport reserve containing $398,476, which would leave the town and county to evenly split the remaining the $362,228 ($181,114). According to the CAP website, eligible projects include runway lighting and major capital rehabilitation, including pavement rehabilitation work, such as fog seals, slurry seals and overlays.

Mayor Ralph Leriger said that the STIP grants are “very much oversubscribed by a long ways” so when it comes to finding the money to cover the town’s portion of the project “they’ll cross that bridge if and when we get there.” While councillors Murtaza Jamaly and Curtis Snell asked if the town needed to commit the funding now, Wiley told them that if the application is successful and the project proceeds, they’d be borrowing the money to make their end, or taking it out of a reserve.

And while Jamaly asked if they could simply refuse the grant if they received it, Leriger replied: “Are you really going to walk away from two-thirds of $2.2 million? Probably you’ll find a way to find your share.”

“We’ll certainly need to have to have the discussion of how are we going to fund it should that eventuality arise,” the mayor added.

George Blais,

George Blais

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