The newly-extended runway at Red Deer Airport is now officially open.
Dignitaries and supporters gathered for the ribbon cutting at the airport Friday morning.
The province announced in October 2015 it was committing $6 million over three years for the extension, with the City of Red Deer and Red Deer County covering the remaining $3.5 million. Work on the project began the following April and was completed in October, on time and on budget.
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says Friday’s celebration marks the end of a long journey that was grounded on more than one occasion.
“There were various times when we were turned down for infrastructure funding from the provincial and federal orders of government,” she recalled. “There was an intervention a couple of years ago where we said it was absolutely essential not only for the infrastructure funding, but also for hosting the 2019 Canada Winter Games. So the games proved to be a catalyst in terms of securing the runway expansion from the provincial government.”
Alberta’s Economic Development Minister, Deron Bilous, says it was a team effort that led to the project finally taking off.
“The airport and the City and the County came to the province and said ‘We can’t do this on our own. We need support.’ The two Red Deer MLAs [Kim Schreiner, Barb Miller] were tireless advocates, showing and pointing to the economic opportunities that this will bring for the region. This isn’t about the city or county, this is about central Alberta.”
Bilous says the project also serves as an example of how local-based decision making plays a key role in making things happen in Alberta.
“It’s not the job of the Government of Alberta to decide what a region should or shouldn’t be doing to drive its economy. Our local representatives know best. Our government listens to our local MLAs who continue to come forward with ideas and proposals,” he explained.
Red Deer Airport CEO Graham Ingham says the extension presents them with some fantastic opportunities.
“We’ve had some recent announcements with some potential low-cost carriers coming into our marketplace, which is great news for Red Deer. We’re strategically positioned to take advantage of those opportunities and really be a key economic driver in central Alberta.”
Bilous says the expanded airport will be an economic driver for central Alberta.
“It also means that Red Deer’s travel has just expanded,” he added. “This runway extension means that now we can have flights between Red Deer and other airports. So there’s the possibility of now having a direct flight between Red Deer and Toronto or other larger cities across Canada are now possible.”
With the runway extension finally complete, Ingham says the airport is already looking ahead to soaring to even greater heights.
“We can now service most of Canada. So really for us, it’s about going on to step two of the project, which is the terminal as well as apron and parking lot expansion.”
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