Canada's New Government Funds Six New Airport Safety Projects in British Columbia



    ABBOTSFORD, BC, April 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Six British Columbia airports will
share close to $5 million for projects to enhance their safety in 2007-2008.
Ed Fast, Member of Parliament for Abbotsford, today announced this funding
under the Government of Canada's Airports Capital Assistance Program, on
behalf of the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport,
Infrastructure and Communities.
    "This funding of $5 million will improve the safety and service capacity
of British Columbia airports, and makes an important investment in our growing
tourism, travel and delivery industries," said Mr. Fast. "This contribution
provides concrete proof of the commitment of this government to the safety of
Canadians and the economic strength of our communities."
    The Airports Capital Assistance Program finances capital projects related
to safety, asset protection and operating cost reduction. Eligible airports
must have year-round, regularly scheduled passenger service, they must meet
Transport Canada airport certification requirements and they cannot be owned
or operated by the Government of Canada.
    "The safety and security of the traveling public is a top priority for
Canada's New Government," said Minister Cannon. "These projects will improve
airport safety and protect Canadians. They will also boost the economic
potential of the airports and surrounding communities."

    The money will be distributed to airports in:

    
    - Abbotsford, where $2,082,925 will cover the purchase of two airport
      fire-fighting vehicles.
    - Fort St. John, where $338, 319 will cover 90 per cent of the total
      estimated cost of $375,910 to replace regulators and automatic gates.
    - Nanaimo, where $112,036 will cover 85 percent of the total estimated
      cost of $131,807 for a snowplow truck.
    - Prince Rupert, where $1,903,892 will pay for over 80 per cent of the
      total estimated cost for airfield electrical systems restoration.
    - Smithers, where $91,343 will cover 95 per cent of the total estimated
      cost of $96,150 for the purchase of a dry/liquid spreader.
    - Williams Lake, where $204,731 will replace airfield cables and its
      lighting control system.

    Backgrounders on the Airports Capital Assistance Program and the selected
British Columbia projects are attached.


                                 Backgrounder
                                 ------------

                 AIRPORTS CAPITAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ACAP)
                 FUNDS SIX NEW PROJECTS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
                 ------------------------------------------

    The Abbotsford Airport is the second largest airport in British Columbia's
lower mainland. Home to Skyways Air Services and Conair Aviation since the
1960's, it became a passenger airport with daily scheduled flights in 2000. It
is growing in popularity as host to the Abbotsford International Air Show and
as an alternative to the Vancouver International Airport; this airport is in
full economic expansion. The $2,082,925 ACAP funding announced today will pay
for two fire-fighting vehicles for Canada's sixth busiest airport.
    The Fort St. John Airport has served British Columbia's largest farming
area since 1940. It was taken over by Canada's Department of Transport in
1941, and became the property of the North Peace Airport Society in 1997. The
$375,000 of ACAP funding announced today will cover 90 per cent of the cost of
replacing the airport's regulators and automatic gates.
    The Nanaimo Airport is the primary air gateway for Central Vancouver
Island. Last year's ACAP award paid for 90 per cent of an important runway
resurfacing project. Today's $112,036 announcement means that ACAP will
finance 85 per cent of the cost of a snowplow truck. This essential equipment
will help keep service for the airport's growing air traffic safe and
efficient.
    The Prince Rupert Airport is a transportation hub for Northern British
Columbia, located on Digby Island. Today's announced ACAP funding of
$1,903,892 will help restore the airfield's electrical systems - ensuring
continued safety and security to the daily flights that carry cargo, mail and
travellers to and from Northern British Columbia.
    The Smithers Airport, owned and operated by the Town of Smithers, is a key
economic player in the region's mining, exploration, energy development and
tourism sectors. The airport and its tenants represent the fourth largest
employer in the area and generate an estimated $18 million in revenue each
year. The $91,343 ACAP funding announced today will cover 95 per cent of the
purchase of a dry/liquid spreader for runway and taxi surface maintenance.
    The Williams Lake Regional Airport has been serving the Cariboo District
of the central interior of British Columbia since 1956. Ownership of the
airport was transferred from Transport Canada to the city of Williams Lake in
1997. The $204,731 ACAP funding announced today will pay 100 per cent of costs
related to replacing airfield cables and the lighting control system.


                     AIRPORTS CAPITAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
                     -----------------------------------

    The Airports Capital Assistance Program provides funding for capital
projects related to safety, asset protection and operating cost reduction. To
be eligible, an airport must receive year-round regularly scheduled passenger
service, meet Transport Canada airport certification requirements and not be
owned by the Government of Canada.
    The current five-year program will allocate $190 million by March 2010 -
at an average of $38 million per year. Contributions are considered for the
following types of projects:
    First priority projects include safety-related airside projects, such as
rehabilitation of runways, taxiways, aprons, lighting and other utilities,
visual aids and sand storage sheds. This category also includes related site
preparation and environmental costs, aircraft firefighting vehicles and
ancillary equipment and equipment shelters that are necessary to maintain the
level of protection required by regulation.
    Second priority projects include heavy safety-related airside mobile
equipment, such as runway snowblowers, runway snowplows, runway sweepers,
spreaders and decelerometers (winter friction testing devices), and heavy
airside mobile equipment shelters.
    Third priority projects include safety-related heavy air terminal building
and groundside projects, such as sprinkler systems, asbestos removal and
barrier-free access.
    Fourth priority projects include asset protection and refurbishing, and
operating cost reduction related to air terminal building or groundside
access.
    Transport Canada also sets priorities based on detailed technical analyses
of facility conditions and maintenance histories, airport traffic and
certification requirements.
    To be eligible, projects must maintain or improve safety levels, protect
airport assets or significantly reduce operating costs. Projects must also
meet accepted engineering practices and be justified on the basis of current
demand. Airport facility expansion projects will only be considered if the
current facilities have a potentially negative impact on safety at the
airport.
    Through the Airports Capital Assistance Program, the Government of Canada
is improving airport safety, as well as helping the economic viability of this
important aspect of Canada's transportation infrastructure.
    The Airports Capital Assistance Program is part of the National Airports
Policy, which calls for the commercialization of designated Canadian airports,
through divestiture to community interests. The policy enables communities to
take greater advantage of their airports, reduce costs, tailor levels of
service to local demand, and attract new and different types of business.
    




For further information:

For further information: Natalie Sarafian, Press Secretary, Office of
the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613)
991-0700; Anju Gill, Executive Assistant to Ed Fast, MP, (604) 557-7888; Rod
Nelson, Communications, Transport Canada, Vancouver, (604) 666-1675; Transport
Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news releases and speeches at
www.tc.gc.ca/listserv/ and keep up-to-date on the latest from Transport
Canada. This news release may be made available in alternative formats for
persons with visual disabilities.


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