The province has provided $65,000 to cover expenses for an automated weather observation system at YZZ. Photo: Jim Bailey

Trail receives $65,000 for airport upgrade

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced the grants on Thursday

Trail Regional Airport (YZZ) is one of four Kootenay airports getting a slice of funding from the BC Air Access Program.

The city received $65,000 to help cover the expense of a recently installed technology at YZZ that provides continuous real-time weather reporting and the precise height of cloud level using a ceilometer.

This data is particularly useful for airlines and pilots during the winter months and inclement weather.

“Despite the challenges of this past year, we are pleased to have completed the automated weather observation system installation at the Trail Regional Airport with the funding from the BC Air Access Program,” said Trail Mayor Lisa Pasin.

“This upgrade at our air facility will enhance overall reliability with its real-time weather reporting technology. This will also benefit our community greatly as we move toward the economic recovery we’re all counting on.”

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The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced the grants on Thursday, which included: $375,000 for the West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar; $159,420 for Nelson’s Norman Stibbs Airport; and $19,415 for Fairmont Hot Springs Airport, located in the East Kootenay.

With severe impacts on travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the province partnered with 27 regional airports and the federal government to develop a co-ordinated approach to support the sector.

The province says that servicing critical routes for local air travel, the 27 capital projects are part of a path to economic recovery.

Funding for these Kootenay airways is part of $9.28 million the province has set aside to enhance local airport infrastructure with initiatives like upgraded taxi lanes, new airside paving and green building projects.

“We know the pandemic has caused financial stress for many industries and significantly impacted our aviation sector throughout B.C., including our community airports,” said Minister Rob Fleming. “But we’re also looking to better days ahead, post-pandemic. That’s why we’re taking action to support communities with important infrastructure upgrades so we can boost jobs, tourism and trade that will give us a head start with B.C.’s economic recovery.”

The BC Air Access Program, now in its seventh year, is a cost-share program that provides funding to assist communities with improvements to their airport infrastructure that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve. This can include funds to support safety improvements, increase economic opportunities and address environmental concerns.

The City of Trail, owner of YZZ, received a $1.18 million BC Air Access Program grant in 2016. The money helped build YZZ’s first terminal building, which cost $2.2 million, and opened in November 2017.

The province also recently announced it was providing a further $16.5 million for airports that provide medical evacuation services, to help maintain their operations.

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