Airport expansions set for West Coast

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is moving forward with its plans to improve and integrate its two airport facilities in the Alberni Valley and on the West Coast.

The ACRD operates both the Long Beach Airport (CYAZ) and the Alberni Valley Regional Airport (AVRA). Its plan will see improved scheduled services, support for the aerospace industry and overall increase in air traffic in the region. The strategy includes lighting improvements and advanced GPS navigational aids for both airports and an extension of the AVRA runway. Currently the AVRA runway is 3,952 feet in length and 75 feet wide. A Runway Extension Pre-design Report commissioned by the ACRD offered three options for improvements. The option chosen by the ACRD would increase the runway to 5,000 feet by 100 feet, add lighting and improved navigational aids at a cost estimate of $6.2 million. Geotechnical analysis has determined that the current runway can support the aircraft anticipated from the expanded surface.

The improvements will enable the coordination of passenger traffic with the CYAZ when disruptions to service are realized.

The move is seen by many as an economic boost, offering benefits in the form of business, jobs and increased tourism. The improvements should attract other aerospace companies, private aircraft and possible scheduled service to the Alberni Valley.

The regional district has committed to the development of the business plan and detailed design of the capital improvements. The total project costs will be $6.2 million at AVRA and $2.36 million at CYAZ.

The regional district will be seeking funding assistance from the provincial and federal governments through the Small Communities component of the New Building Canada Fund. Success with these grants will drop the local contribution to $2.067 million for AVRA and $786,660 for CYAZ. The regional district will also be applying for a $300,000 grant from the local Community Forest Legacy Fund.