Province grants $275,000 for airport

May 13, 2019, 7:46 am
Kevin Weedmark


The provincial government will provide $275,000 for the expansion of Moosomin’s airport. A group spearheaded by Jeff St. Onge and Dr. Schalk Van Der Merwe has been securing commitments from municipal governments throughout the region.

So far the municipal contributions and corporate fundraising has brought in $792,500. With the provincial contribution there is now more than $1 million earmarked for the airport expansion—$1,067,500.

The $275,000 grant is the largest CAP (Community Airport Partnership) grant to any community in Saskatchewan this year, and is the maximum amount that can be provided to any community in one year under the program.

“Our communities and regionally-owned airports provide important transportation infrastructure that support critical services like air ambulance, law enforcement and firefighting,” Highways and Infrastructure Minister Lori Carr said. “By partnering with municipalities, we’re ensuring a network of airports is in place to enhance economic development in sectors like tourism, oil and gas, agriculture and mining.”

CAP is designed to help offset the capital costs of rehabilitation and infrastructure improvements with grants being cost-shared up to a maximum amount of $275,000.

“We are very pleased to obtain this CAP grant for improvements and upgrades to our airport facility,” said Moosomin Mayor Larry Tomlinson. “Any investment into our local transportation infrastructure is always welcome.”

Gov’t impressed

Moosomin MLA Steven Bonk said the government was impressed by the presentation by Moosomin.

“A lot of credit needs to be given to the Moosomin Flying Club, particularly Jeff St. Onge and Dr. Van,” Bonk said, “because according to the ministry they put together probably the most detailed and professional submission they have ever received. Everything was in order, there was a definite need identified. They had done a very detailed cost-benefit analysis, and the application was approved for the maximum amount allowable.”

The CAP grant program is continually oversubscribed, as more applications come in each year than there is funding available.

“It is continually oversubscribed,” Bonk said. “There is definitely a need in the province for more improvements and enhancements to our airport network. To address that we have increased the funding by 40 per cent in recent years. Like everything in government we have lots of good projects that need help but there are limited financial resources, so we have to be very prudent. This program is important because aviation contributes about two per cent to our GDP, and supports 15,000 jobs. In our area, where we have oil and gas and mining, and tourism and agriculture, it’s very important.

“Moosomin’s airport expansion is important because of those industries, and it was also important to improve the airport in Moosomin because of the air ambulance.”

Bonk said he was pleased to have been able to help with the Moosomin application.

“I met with Jeff St. Onge and Dr. Van prior to the application. I also arranged a meeting with them with the minister of highways and infrastructure, and have been involved in offering assistance any way I could because I believe in this project and I know it will be very good for Moosomin and the surrounding area.”

Grant welcomed

Jeff St. Onge said Friday morning that he was thrilled with the news.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” he said. “I think it speaks to the confidence the province has in the project and the importance of the project. We put in a three-year proposal, and this is year one. It couldn’t be better—it literally couldn’t be better, this is the maximum they can award. I know there were a lot of applications in there, and for them to award us the maximum absolutely speaks to the relative importance of this in the province.

“We have commitments from the municipalities, we now have a commitment from the provincial government, and we’re looking for corporate sponsorships to raise the rest of the money we need.

“Right now we’ve got enough funding in place that we can go to our corporate community and say this funding is in place, this project is moving forward, and asking how they can help us out.”

St. Onge said the grant announcement helps the project move forward.

“We had a meeting with the airport committee on April 29, and we were waiting for the grant to come in to chart out the path moving forward.

“We need to start working with the landowners if we change the orientation to be in line with the prevailing wind. Then the job is to get the engineers out there, to get the boots on the ground, so we can have an accurate tender. The idea is to start with aggregate hauling over the winter and then the cut and fill and then the pavement.”

St. Onge and Dr. Van have spent the last year making presentations on the need for the airport expansion to the Moosomin Chamber of Commerce, to municipal councils, to the provincial government, and to potential corporate partners.

“Dr. Van and I started our travelling road show just over a year ago, and the plan is to have a runway we can land on by the end of next summer. The government has been very easy to work with. We were in to see Minister Carr and it was a very productive meeting,” says St. Onge.

“I think the process went fairly quickly because the need speaks for itself. When you look at the documentation, you see that we need this airport. In this region of the province we have the largest hospital and the smallest airport. There is a correlation between air transportation and the hospital. I do believe that $275,000 maximum grant speaks to the fact that the government sees the need.”

Approved projects

Airports benefiting from the CAP program this year include:
  • Moosomin - $275,000 – new runway construction Phase 1;

  • Yorkton - $257,760 – runway rehabilitation Phase 1.

  • Estevan - $86,750 – runway drainage improvements;

  • Swift Current - $55,000 – asphalt maintenance and runway, taxiway, and apron painting;

  • Humboldt - $36,500 – runway repairs and replacement of the Nondirectional Radio Beacon system with a GPS approach;

  • Maple Creek - $27,000 – runway repairs;

  • Birch Hills - $17,500 – replace and repair runway and apron lights;

  • Kipling - $6,650 - installation of a RNAV (GNSS) approach system;

  • Kindersley - $4,000 – runway repairs.

“As we like to say—a mile of highway gets you a mile down the road; a mile of runway gets you the world,” Saskatchewan Aviation Council President Janet Keim said. “Our communities realize the tremendous value of their airports in both social and economic growth benefits and this program assists in important capital reinvestment opportunities.”

Since 2007, more than $7 million has been invested in community airports and, coupled with 50-50 matching community contributions, the program has generated about $14 million in airport improvements. A total of 36 different communities have benefited from the program since its inception.

The Moosomin Kinsmen Club is planning a fundraiser for the airport improvement project June 8, including a supper and a performance by hypnotist Blacksalt.


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