Ponoka has approved selling its airport for $385,000.
Town council passed a motion, following an in-camera discussion, at its Feb. 11 meeting that will see the Ponoka Flying Club purchase the airport and also waiving a requirement that an appraisal value be determined prior to selling the property.
The sale, to be completed by April 15, includes a town option to buy back the property — at the same price plus inflation within a 25-year time frame — should the land no longer be operating as an airport.
“Council is pleased that we have a buyer that is highly motivated to continue operating the airport for the benefit of local aircraft owners and for our community as a whole,” Mayor Rick Bonnett said in a press release.
“Council’s decision was made in the interest of the efficient operation and future development of the airport, and is in the best interest of the public.”
Also in the release, Flying Club spokesman Neil McLaren explained it will assume all existing leases and subdivided lots, which it will continue to offer for sale.
“The Ponoka Flying Club thanks the Town for the opportunity to purchase the airport and for continuing to support airport operations through the annual grant as we work to grow the airport over time,” he said.
Any revenue made will be directed into operations and improvements, while an annual financial report will be provided to the town.
According to the release, the sale will reduce the town’s finanical contributions and liability for the airport, while recovering money that’s been previously invested. Additionally, town staff and resources will be able to concentrate on other community priorities.
“The grant funding is also an acknowledgement that the Town recognizes the ongoing importance of the airport to the community for services like air ambulance and medivac. With lot sales, volunteer labour and strategic improvements to the airport, the hope is that the Flying Club will eventually be able to run the facility on as close to a break-even basis as possible,” Bonnett said.
The money from the sale will be put into the town’s development reserve, which translates into a replacement of the $385,000 the town spent on an extension of the taxiway in 2018.
The town bought the airport in 1968 for $26,300.