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Town, MD of Bonnyville entering negotiations for airport

The Town and MD of Bonnyville have started negotiating the MD taking ownership of the Bonnyville Regional Airport. File photo.

BONNYVILLE – The Town of Bonnyville is hoping for a smooth landing when it comes to transferring ownership of the Bonnyville Regional Airport.

Council voted in favour of entering into negotiations with the MD of Bonnyville during their May 12 meeting.

According to town assistant CAO Bill Rogers, it’s a “matter that has been discussed several times in the last year.”

“From a planning perspective, and given the close proximity of the MD subdivisions to the airport and the jurisdictional control and developments, this makes sense that they have authority over the facility,” Rogers continued. “Most of the air traffic is oil and gas related personnel travelling to the oil and gas oil sands and financially, the MD is in a better position than the town is to invest capital dollars into improvements.”

During the regional airport committee’s April 29 meeting, they elected representatives from the town and MD to discuss the transfer of ownership of the airport. MD council passed a motion during their May 6 meeting to move forward with acquiring the airport from the town. 

While town council was in favour of moving ahead with the possibility, Coun. Ray Prevost wondered what would come of the inter-municipal cooperation program (IMCP) funding the town receives from the MD.

 “Every year, we get a (certain) amount of dollars from the IMCP and the airport is taken off of that, the C2, and so on. The recommendation makes a lot of sense, 100 per cent, because the MD controls the development around the airport, but are we going to renegotiate this part of the IMCP or if the MD runs a big deficit… are we going to be expected to pay it?”

Rogers responded, “What will happen moving forward is those details need to be worked out between ourselves and the MD. There’s a question of how much of a contribution we’ll be making in the future after the MD takes ownership of the airport, and all of that needs to be worked out. If everything’s stayed the same as it was now, then we’d have to have some understanding of how much is too much and if there’s any questions about deficits in the future and that type of thing.”

Although the airport has experienced deficits ranging from $60,000 to $80,000, Rogers stated “it hasn’t been super hard on the pocketbook and the (MD’s) share comes out of the annual IMCP money.”

Once representatives from both municipalities come to an agreement, it will be presented to councils for discussion further before a final decision is made. 

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle