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Aviation investments support essential services, economic growth

May 19, 2023 at 10:29 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

The Province is upgrading regional airports to help support economic development, improve aviation services and safety, and enhance access to B.C.’s rural and remote communities.

“The BC Air Access Program helps communities, especially smaller ones, with important improvements to their aviation facilities,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “This investment will help move people and goods, improve safety and benefit front-line services, like air ambulance and wildfire fighting, as well as making for more secure access to remote and Indigenous communities.”

The Province is investing $19.8 million in the latest round of BC Air Access Program (BCAAP) projects, which will support 40 projects at 29 air facilities, improving safety, security and passenger facilities. Projects include runway extensions, improved runway lighting, pavement improvements, terminal enhancements and better fire protection. 

“These investments are improving local airports across the province, making a difference for travellers, the aviation industry and the businesses that count on reliable air service to export their products to markets worldwide,” said Dan Coulter, Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit.

Under BCAAP, airports, heliports and water aerodromes submit proposals to access grants to support infrastructure upgrades.

“The continued expansion of the BC Air Access Program is positive news for the province’s remote, rural and Indigenous communities, as well as for fire suppression, air ambulance, emergency response, tourism and economic development initiatives,” said Heather McCarley, chair of the BC Aviation Council. “We are so pleased to see such progressive, strategic thinking.”

B.C. has more than 300 public airports, heliports and water aerodromes, which play a significant role in connecting communities, supporting the economy and keeping people safe.

“Improving air services in rural and remote communities across B.C. helps serve everyone’s needs and improves our connections with the rest of the province and country,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. “Aviation provides vital links to smaller communities, and this support will provide these airports and communities with better services, improved emergency-response capacity and more opportunities to grow their local economies.”

Since its launch in 2015, BCAAP has committed $66.8 million in grants to infrastructure projects at 71 air facilities. The program is open to applicants from facilities that serve fewer than one million passengers per year. Applicants are eligible for as much as $2 million in annual cost-sharing grants to help fund infrastructure needs. Air facility operators include local governments, non-profit operating societies and contracted operators applying on their behalf.

A backgrounder follows.

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