WEYBURN – The completion of paving at the Weyburn Airport was marked with a gathering of city officials and the airport board on Friday morning, along with the minister of Highways and Transportation, Lori Carr.
Community and regionally-owned airports play a key role in providing vital services like air ambulance, law enforcement and firefighting.
“By supporting the Weyburn Airport through the Community Airport Partnership program, the Government of Saskatchewan is championing community progress,” Weyburn Airport Board chair Councillor Mel Van Betuw said. “This funding enhances local opportunities and enables communities like Weyburn to improve critical infrastructure and improve aviation locally.”
He noted the paving of the apron at the airport, where the STARS air ambulance lands to take patients on to Regina, “significantly improves the airport’s safety and functionality. The airport is more than just runways, they’re a vital life-line for our community and essential services like the STARS air ambulance.”
“I’m sure the apron is not just a welcome investment for STARS to land, but for the airport’s general operations, so congratulations to the airport board for using the program. Making funding available is so important for communities across the province,” said minister Carr.
The province provided a grant of $88,600 for the paving, with the City of Weyburn contributing a matching amount, and was one of the first paving projects done in the spring.
City engineer Jennifer Wilkinson noted that Genco Asphalt was able to get on it right away because there was no underground infrastructure to worry about, and minimal traffic disruption, other than to the airport. She also noted the City was able to include the airport paving as part of a larger paving contract for other projects around Weyburn.
The Government of Saskatchewan is now accepting applications for the next intake of the Community Airport Partnership (CAP) program for 2024-25. As community airport projects are well underway across the province, the focus shifts to intake for 2024-25, said Carr in her remarks.
"Communities have expressed the need for more time to tender crucial projects aimed at enhancing their airports, which play a vital role in providing essential transportation," Carr said. “These collaborative investments continue to lead to important upgrades and maintenance for our local airports.”
A program review earlier this year led to changes to application dates, which have been adjusted following consultation with communities and airport users. The review also resulted in several recommendations such as the development of a strategic aviation policy, updating program selection criteria and funding model.
Wilkinson noted this change to the grant application process was helpful to the city, and they will be able to apply for a CAP grant for next year’s project at the airport, to upgrade the runways by the hangars, as the runways are starting to degrade.
The early timeline also enables the City to line up contractors for work for next year, to get the work done as early in the construction season as possible.
Grants are cost-shared up to a maximum amount of $275,000. CAP is designed to help offset safety-related improvements such as upgrades to runways and taxiways, lighting, security fencing and navigational systems.
Projects are evaluated based on improving safety, extending the life-cycle of the asset, airport utilization, economic benefits and partnership opportunities.
The program invested $850,000 in cost-shared grants to 21 community airports across the province this year. Since CAP began in 2007-08, the Weyburn Airport has received a total of $547,000 in grant funding towards upgrades and improvements.