An airport master plan for the Ponoka Industrial Airport is that much closer to completion.
Town and county councillors received an update on the Ponoka Airport Master Plan from MMM Group during their regular meetings Tuesday, Oct. 14. MMM Group is the consulting firm hired to conduct a master plan on the airport that will guide development steps in the area for the future.
Michael MacLean first presented information on the project, which was initiated in August this year, to county councillors and then to town councillors and he says their focus was on the future of the airport. “One of the priorities for management and council was to review the long-term viability of the airport.”
He said while Ponoka’s airport does have the CANPASS service, which allows international flights from Ponoka, most of the activity is for general aviation. He added the land-use bylaws for the area are out of date and the airport’s finances are in the red. He wants to change this state of affairs at the airport.
It is a significant asset that can contribute to development for both the town and county, said MacLean. “Until you have a governance plan, you don’t actually know what governance plan…will be best.”
He suggests the airport must be sustainable and land around the airplane hangars has potential for development.
“To develop an airport business plan: select a governance model that would implement that business plan and then two complimentary steps, prepare an area structure plan for the airport and prepare a land-use bylaw district,” said MMM Group land use planner Colton Kirsop.
As the airport is managed by the Town of Ponoka but is on Ponoka County land, MacLean says MMM Group’s focus has been on three major tasks:
Airport business plan
Airport governance model
Airport area structure plan and land-use bylaw
For the first task, planners held a stakeholder workshop and looked at options available to the two municipalities. The Airport Commission and Ponoka Flying Club were both consulted. The governance model required a review of comparable airports, a stakeholder workshop and the development of recommended model to councillors.
For the last option, two public open houses are planned and both the area structure plans and the land-use bylaws will be updated. MMM Group expects to have a final document prepared for both councils in June next year. Town Coun. Loanna Gulka asked if both councils will be meeting together on this document.
“At any point, is there a time planned where we will get together?” Gulka asked.
MacLean replied that the Airport Commission has representatives from both municipalities and he feels those representatives will pass on important information to their respective councils.
The area structure plan being developed the MMM Group encompasses only a portion of the airport’s land and the land use district would only apply to the airport runway and not the treed part at the west side. “There may be a need to look at applying to a broader area. At this point, we understand that’s probably the most logical expansion area.”
Once the land use bylaws for the area are finalized, Ponoka County will also have to amend its land-use bylaw.
“It sounds like a great plan,” said county Reeve Paul McLauchlin.
No decisions were made at either meeting.
– Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye and Amelia Naismith