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WHEREAS Alberta continues to experience tremendous growth and a robust economy which requires significant, predictable and sustainable infrastructure funding for municipalities; and
WHEREAS the Premier of Alberta in his December 15, 2006 mandates to Cabinet included the mandate to the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation stating “develop a new provincial aviation strategy to explore options to ensure the viability of small airports in Alberta”; and
WHEREAS the total estimated value of identified improvements for regional and community airports as stated in the 2007 Alberta Infrastructure Alberta Small Airport Strategy Report is valued at $97.0 million over the next ten years; and
WHEREAS the draft 2007 Alberta Small Airport Strategy report states;
The following bullets provide a summary of observations:
– Airports are an important component of Alberta’s overall transportation system providing public interest functions, general aviation and scheduled passenger services.
– The number of capital projects needed at community and regional airports exceeds current available funding that is specific for airports.
– There are insufficient revenues to support the current 72 community airport network (i.e., there are limited revenue generating opportunities for the 72 community airports to support their ongoing operating and capital costs).
– Some regional airports are able to support operating costs at their facilities, but not new capital costs to comply with new federal regulations and/or pursue new expansionary projects; and
WHEREAS the Community Airport Program was created prior to 1991 to assist municipalities with community-owned public-use airports, in the ongoing upgrading and replacement of airside facilities such as aprons and runways; and
WHEREAS the current level of funding for this program has not been meeting demands especially with inflation and cost escalation in Alberta; and
WHEREAS many of the airport facilities in use today were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s and are nearing or have exceeded their projected surface renewal life span; and
WHEREAS these critical structures pose a serious safety concern and public liability if not replaced in an appropriate time frame, especially in the case of catastrophic failures; and
WHEREAS the annual contribution required to fund the identified capital needs for the 2007 Small Airport Strategies Report averages $9.7 million per year over the next ten years; and
WHEREAS the current level of funding of the provincial Community Airport Program at $2 million per year is inadequate to meet the basic needs of municipalities, and if projects are not funded in a timely manner projects will move from recapitalization to reconstruction due to the annual deterioration of that infrastructure;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to increase the level of funding for the Community Airport Program to a level that reflects the needs of municipalities to implement necessary and timely capital upgrades for community-owned public-use airports.
The Community Airport Program (CAP) was created prior to 1991 to assist in the funding of capital upgrades for community-owned public-use airports that could not fund the large investment required to resurfacing projects such as runway and apron overlays.
The province under took the Alberta Small Airports Strategy, released in April 2007, which identified the importance of community-owned public-use airports to Province of Alberta transportation strategies. The CAP funding level has been held steady at the $2.0 million level for at least the last ten years. This funding level cannot support the required capital upgrades for existing infrastructure for the 72 community airports, and an increasing number over the last 25 years have been turned over from the provincial or the federal governments to local municipalities.
CAP in some years is over subscribed due to the back log of infrastructure upgrade projects, and each year a number of projects (ranging from 3 to 9) are only partially funded. Problem resulting from this lack of funding include municipalities that have not applied to the program due to the lack of funding available in the program, and municipalities avoiding delays in construction to process applications for small grant amounts where they have individual projects larger than the entire annual funding available within the grant program.
A summary of CAP program qualifying projects is as follows:
Community Airports Program (CAP)
CAP provides approximately $2 million annually in funding assistance to community-owned, public-use airports that do not provide scheduled service for their rehabilitation and construction requirements. Eligible projects include major capital rehabilitation of the airside portion of the airport, specifically the aircraft operating areas such as runways, aprons and taxiways. Typical projects would be pavement rehabilitation including fog seals, slurry seals and overlays. Projects approved under CAP are eligible for funding up to 100 percent.
Consideration will also be given to runway extensions where benefits can be demonstrated in terms of the overall goals of the program, where budget is available, and where beneficiaries provide a significant financial contribution to the project. Any such work undertaken recently has been on the basis of 1/3 province, 1/3 municipal and 1/3 industry cost sharing basis.
Full details on the CAP program is available at http://transportation.alberta.ca/2718.htm
The AAMDC has no current resolutions directly related to this issue. The AAMDC had representation at a consultation session with stakeholders looking at a Small Airports Strategy in 2007. This group put forward a Discussion Paper to the Minister of Transportations with proposed strategies on how to develop a new aviation strategy to explore options that will ensure the viability of small airports in Alberta.
The AAMDC has a member sit on the FCM Standing Committee on Municipal Infrastructure and Transportation. This Committee made small and regional airports one of their priority areas for Advocacy over the next year. Their objectives for this issue include:
– To maintain funding eligibility under existing infrastructure programs
– To expand eligibility and increase funding under the Airport Capital Assistance Program
– To identify other potential funding sources.
Through the past belt-tightening budgets introduced by the Government of Alberta, the Comunity Airport Program was neither cut nor increased in funding. While the association is appreciative of the governments effort to not cut this vital program, the AAMDC continues to urge the Government of Alberta to fund this program to a level that reflects the needs of municipalities.