Airport business plan foresees gradual decline in deficits

Plans for Ponoka’s Industrial Airport are becoming more concrete as consultants keep working on a business plan.

Plans for Ponoka’s Industrial Airport are becoming more concrete as consultants keep working on a business plan.

Town council heard from MMM Group, the consulting firm hired to draft an Airport Business Plan (ABP) that sets the future of the airport. Consultant Philip Van Manen explained how the ABP looks on Tuesday, Jan. 20 during a committee of the whole meeting.

What the MMM Group have been looking at is drafting land-use bylaws for the airport, an area structure plan and related bylaws.

Since the land sits on Ponoka County property, the two municipalities are working together on the project.

Van Manen looked at four considerations:

• There is some demand for hangar spaces.

• Adding mixed aircraft is limited by narrow taxiways.

• Short runway limits aircraft size.

• Land is available for short-term development but not long-term.

The ABP sets out how expansion and improvements will look like in the next 25 to 30 years.

Van Manen says there also appears to be demand for a helicopter landing pad. There is space for take off and landing, but there is a power pole nearby, which is a safety concern.

Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services for the Town of Ponoka, said he had offered to buy the pole from Fortis so that he could put the power line underground.

The ABP provides for a more robust set of plans to see the airport grow and start to come out of deficit operations gradually. The 2015 interim budget forecasts revenues at $23,700 and expenses of $32,500 with a deficit of $8,800.

Managing the airport

Council will have to consider whether to operate the airport with or without a manager.

Van Manen says part of the ABP will outline governance and operations of the airport, which will help define how to manage it. He says there is potential for the airport to make money through fees and services. “We do agree that this is a long-term development.”

McPhee suggests a full time position is not needed to manage the airport.

Council approved one of three options presented by MMM Group at its regular public meeting Nov. 25 during a Power Point presentation, but it has not been made available to the public. Administration stated it was still a draft plan to help set the ABP.