Qualicum Beach Airport will be upgrading its runway lights to LED.
After three years of trying to secure funding for the Airfield Lighting Rehabilitation Project, the Town of Qualicum Beach received the financial approval of up to $1,141,476 from the federal government.
To get the project moving forward, staff recommended to council at a special meeting on April 21, that mayor Brian Wiese and CAO Daniel Sailland be authorized to execute the project contribution agreement between the Government of Canada, represented by the Minister of Transport, and Town of Qualicum Beach for receipt of the grant for the lighting project at the airport.
“The existing lighting system that we have is quite outdated,” said Sailland. “We know that we have been wanting to replace it for almost three years now.”
Coun. Scott Harrison called it good news.
“I think that this is something that is actually important,” said Harrison. “I know Coun. (Robert) Filmer has mentioned several times that this is one of the things that is holding us back a bit. There’s a few other things we want to do as well in the long run but this is an important one. I am very grateful the federal government is helping us out.”
Sailland updated the council on what’s happening at the airport. He indicated the town is still negotiating with a new commercial carrier to replace Island Express Air, which ceased to provide flights from Qualicum Beach to Vancouver Airport last year.
Last year, Iskwew Air started collaborating with the town and held a survey on how it can best serve the region.
Sailland said the plan was to start in May but due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, it has been extremely challenging for the airline to begin operations.
“We’re in dialogue around the lease space to open up at the airport,” said Sailland. “And with that dialogue we’re looking at how it is that we can navigate through the COVID period and open up and perhaps show a little bit of flexibility in the lease to do that. We’re trying to do so in a way we can replicate if other carriers do want to come in.”
Sailland indicated that he plans to present a lease agreement to council some time in camera in June for consideration.
“We’re hoping that we will see a carrier starting mid-summer,” said Sailland, who also pointed out that there is a second carrier that has expressed interest.
“We’re hoping when we come out of COVID, we see these carriers coming up again,” said Sailland. “And with the revised scheduled rates that we’ve been working on with council and structure, I think, it will be a much more favourable environment for people to succeed.”