Smithers Airport Expansion Project Receives Contribution From Northern Trust

The Smithers Airport Expansion project has received another financial boost -- this one from the Northern Development Iniative Trust.

And both the mayor and the airport's manager are hoping to have shovels in the ground later this spring.

The Smithers Airport Terminal building is well past its "best-before" date.

It was built in the mid 1960's, and a lot has changed in the last half century.

Many hours have been devoted to drawing up the eight-million-dollar plan to expand and modernize the building -- and Mayor Taylor Bachrach says Tuesday's announcement that the Northern Trust was kicking in $125,000 was certainly welcome news.

"This is a really key part of us filling out the eight-million-dollar budget for the project; grants like the one from NDI make this project possible and I think recognizing its role in the regional economy," said the Mayor.

Just over a year ago, Ottawa approved a four-million-dollar injection from the federal gas tax fund -- but the town also is asking voters to okay borrowing another three million to get the job done.

The Smithers Airport's runways are  big enough to accomodate larger planes, but the terminal is too small to handle aircraft with more than 54 seats, meaning a loss of potential revenue as those flights divert to other airports. 

Airport manager Rob Blackburn says the terminal building has millions of dollars worth of deficiencies -- and a new terminal is sorely needed.

"We're at capacity now so just with the traffic we have now we find the terminal's often congested so we're really hoping that with this expansion, it's going to make the flow for the travelling public a lot easier," he explained.

Assuming the voters say yes to the town's borrowing request, Mayor Bachrach hopes construction can begin very soon.

"Our staff have been working with an architect for a number of months, finalizing our plans, it's been approved by council, we're really excited about it, it looks fantastic, and we're hoping to put shovels in the ground later this spring --- that's really our goal that we're working towards," said Bachrach.

It's estimated the project will take about 14 months to complete.