Ponoka’s runway extension will move ahead earlier than intended.
The decision came July 11 during the regular meeting of town council after hearing a business deal that would trade the work for lots.
The proposal comes from a group of business owners who make use of the Ponoka Industrial Airport on a regular basis. Representatives of the group came to Town of Ponoka council on June 13 and offered a trade: to construct the runway extension in exchange for lots. At its July 11 meeting council approved the proposal in the hopes of spurring further development at the airport.
The business owners group, which includes Eagle Builders and Dr. Hilgard Goosen, would like to have the runway extended to 4,000 feet, up from the current 3,089 feet.
This extension would allow users of planes with twin engines or turbo props a longer take-off and landing space. It would also be ideal for larger Alberta Health Services planes, which currently cannot fly on full tanks of fuel due to the smaller runway size, explained Goosen.
CAO Albert Flootman told council at the July 11 meeting that Eagle Builders has offered to do the extension at a fixed price of $531,284. The lots the group would acquire are valued at $560,000.
“It’s logical to do the extension,” said Flootman.
The original estimate to do the runway extension was estimated at approximately $1.2 million. The company would still need to ensure the proper technical and engineering aspects of the work meet safety standards.
“It’s quite clear to us that they understand quality control,” said Flootman, referring to Eagle Builders’ quality of work.
The business group has engineering drawings created by Al-Terra Engineering in Red Deer. Al-Terra has also used the services of GroundEffect Aerodrome Consulting.
It is believed there is strong desire to see some improvements occur at the airport with pilots looking to buy or lease lots at the airport, although nothing has been signed.
“The taxiway relocation is a big ticket item,” offered Goosen.
The business group’s offer is based on acquiring the lots by the end of 2018-19.
One of the airport’s plans provided that a taxiway expansion be completed in the first phase, but Goosen suggests that pilots can use the runway to taxi in the mean time. “Pilots can simply use the runway as a back traffic taxiway.”
The taxiway improvements will be pushed back to accommodate the runway extension.
Coun. Loanna Gulka suggested that since this project could be seen as an economic development one for the Town of Ponoka, that there may be grants to be used.
Coun. Carla Prediger wasn’t overly excited with sole sourcing the extension as proposed in the project.
“The town is procuring the work by way of a land exchange in lieu of paying cash for the work,” explains the preamble.
“Have we done our due diligence in making sure we have the best of the best?” Prediger asked.
Flootman responded that the price Eagle Builders offered, which is fixed, is cheaper than the estimate in the town’s Airport Development Plan.
Council approved the proposal with Prediger voting against it.
The airport development plan will be amended to show the change to the project.