Installation of new lighting and electrical conduits is expected to start this summer at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. The over $1.3-million project will be largely funded by the federal government, with about $65,000 coming from the City of Castlegar.

Airport manager, Patrick Gauvreau, hopes work isn’t impacted by another busy wildfire season.

“We hope that we don’t have an active fire season because a lot of the work is going to be done at air side at the end of the runway and areas where there’s aircraft activity, so we may have to look at nighttime construction or evening construction.”

The airport’s lighting and electrical conduits are over 25 years old, Gauvreau explains, and the updated technology does mean a safer airport.

“We can’t find parts, like oil filters, for the existing power generator that we have. So the maintenance is, it’s like we’re having to band-aid the generator. And the electrical conduits, like all the cabling is going to get upgraded as well. Right now, the cabling, I don’t believe, is in a conduit, so it could be deteriorating and water could be getting into the system.”

He also explains the airport doesn’t have runway lights but uses PAPI (precision approach path indicator) and Odell which help airplanes identify the end of runway 33.  All are slated to get updated as they’re also roughly 25 plus years old.

A report done by consultants for the City in 2013 made recommendations for the work.  The grant application was submitted to the federal government a couple years ago.

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Almost $1.3 million in funding was announced today by the Government of Canada for the West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar.

Federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, said the funds will rehabilitate the airside lighting and electrical systems. Work includes installing runway indication lights and an omni-directional approach lighting system; replacing constant current regulators and a standby diesel generator with fuel tank; and installing a runway precision approach path indicator system.

According to the federal government, these investments ensure safe usage by aircraft, passengers, and crews during airport operations and can also reduce costs for energy, maintenance, and repair and improve visibility.

The funding comes from Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP). The West Kootenay Regional Airport has received more than $6 million in ACAP funding to date for nine safety projects. This includes today’s airside lighting and electrical systems project announcement, new snow-clearing equipment and the rehabilitation of the runway, apron and taxiway.