+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 20-15F

Capital Funding for Community Airports

Date:
November 18, 2015
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2018
Active Status:
Expired
Sponsors:
MD of Lesser Slave River
District:
3 - Pembina River
Year:
2015
Convention:
Fall
Category:
Other
Status:
Accepted
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS Alberta requires significant, predictable and sustainable infrastructure funding for community airports; and

WHEREAS community airports are key assets in rural Alberta for emergency services, medical services, wildfire suppression, and access to facilities and activities that form the province’s economic engine; 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 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;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to reinstate 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.

Member Background:

Community airports are significant resources that serve areas beyond the metropolitan areas of Alberta.  While most do not have scheduled air service, the criteria that excludes this type of infrastructure from receiving federal funding, these airports are key to rural Albertans who live in towns and rural areas and to those that need timely access to the resources that drive Alberta’s economy.

A living example of the value of a community airport and the challenges it faces is evidenced in Slave Lake:

  • Used extensively with an average 8000 aircraft movements annually
  • Used as an Alberta Health Services air ambulance base
  • Used as an Alberta Agriculture and Forestry air tanker base (heavier aircraft, tankers, have a major impact on the life of the asphalt surfaces)
  • Requires $4.1 million of capital replacements; rejected under Building Canada Fund because of no regularly scheduled air service.

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.  Additionally, regulatory requirements change over time that add to capital life cycle costs.  Given the uses of community airports and the users that use them, they represent a provincial resource.  While one-off funding, such as the recent investment under the Alberta Community Partnership grant for the Red Deer Airport for the Canada Winter Games and growth that has been experienced in that region are appreciated when they occur, community airports need certainty.  Provincial granting certainty is needed to match financing with the sustainability of airport assets.

This resolution follows a previous resolution on community airport funding made by Mountain View County passed by the AAMDC in 2007 seeking funding. The difference now is that the program is unfunded.

RMA Background:

1-08F: Provincial Funding for Community Airport Program

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.

DEVELOPMENT: In 2011, the Community Airport Program was discontinued as a separate grant program and aggregated under the Government of Alberta’s Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP), along with the Resource Road Program, Local Road Bridge Program (LRBP), and Local Municipal Initiative Program. Beginning in the 2013 budget, the Government of Alberta unfunded the entire STIP, including the community airport program. The AAMDC is currently advocating for a return of STIP funding through numerous resolutions related to the LRBP.

Government Response:

Municipal Affairs: The Government of Alberta (GOA) is committed to making life better for Albertans. By supporting the capital infrastructure and the regional and capacity building priorities of our municipal partners and regional organizations, we can help strengthen communities.

Subject to program parameters, financial support for capital initiatives like municipal and regional airports is available through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative, the Alberta Community Partnership, and the Federal Gas Tax Fund.

When choosing projects, the province strongly encourages municipalities to consider their long-term infrastructure needs so that funding may be used most effectively.

The GOA and the federal government signed the Small Communities Fund (SCF) agreement in early February 2015. The SCF is a joint funding program under which the federal and provincial governments are working together to provide a total of $188 million for communities with populations under 100,000 to fund up to two?thirds of eligible infrastructure costs for projects approved through a competitive application process.

The SCF program held a call for applications between February 26 and April 2, 2015 and received nearly 300 eligible project applications with total project costs in excess of $1 billion. As the applications submitted far exceeded the funding available, projects were ranked according to the publicly available criteria in order to provide a basis for fair and impartial funding approvals.

The 56 highest ranked projects were identified and approved, and the program is closed to applications.

Transportation: In 1995, the Community Airport Program (CAP) was created to provide funds to small community airports in Alberta. CAP is one component falling under the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP). From 1999 to 2010, CAP provided close to $25 million of funding to upgrade primary runways, main taxiways, and aprons. STIP will be provided with $35 million of funding in 2017-18 and $65 million in 2018-19.

STIP is administered by Alberta Transportation, and the ministry will be seeking municipal input on how the funding should be allocated and if program criteria should change.

Development:

The return of the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) in the 2017-18 budget year has allocated a $2 million for the Community Airport Program (CAP). During the process of redesigning STIP, the Government of Alberta consulted with both urban and rural municipalities to determine priority infrastructure types for funding. Rural municipalities that participated in the survey indicated that a relatively small proportion of overall STIP funding (approximately 10%) should be directed towards CAP. The $2 million allocated in 2017-18 is roughly aligned with this input. While this is slightly less than the amounts suggested in the survey, it is reasonably similar, particularly considering the high level of funding needed for roads and bridges which is also addressed in other STIP components. RMA is also pleased that eligibility criteria under CAP has been expanded to include lighting.

Given that the 2018-19 budget for STIP has decreased from the projected $35 million to $26 million, the RMA is concerned about the overall funding decrease for STIP and how this may impact funding allocated to CAP. The RMA will monitor the impact to CAP as details become available. This resolution is assigned a status of Accepted.

Provincial Ministries:
Municipal Affairs,
Transportation
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