Potential Airport Closure Public Hearing

| November 6, 2015
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Public Hearing for the discussion of potentially closing the Fox Creek airport. L-R: Councillor Robin Gervais, Mayor Jim Ahn and Councillors Tom Thompson, Jim Hailes and Chris Stadnyk.

A small crowd of approximately 40 residents gathered at the community hall on October 28th for the public hearing regarding the potential closure of the Fox Creek airport.

Seated on the stage, were Mayor Jim Ahn and Councillors Robin Gervais, Tom Thompson, Jim Hailes and Chris Stadnyk.

Mayor Ahn welcomed the attendees and began the public hearing by saying “No decision has been made yet, we held the open house to see how people feel and want your feedback.”

He explained the Fox Creek airport is located on a 120 acre parcel of town owned land.  The town is considering closing the airport and developing a commercial area, a “one stop shop” similar to Gasoline Alley in Red Deer.

Airport Property Airport Compared to Gasoline Alley

Currently it costs the Town of Fox Creek $45, 000 per year to maintain the airport, pending how much snow falls according to Mayor Ahn.

Councillor Tom Thompson mentioned the airport’s deteriorating surface. The costs to rebuild the current airport are an estimated $45 million and to fix the current airport would be an estimated $42 million, explained Mayor Ahn.

Mayor Ahn said “There is 20 acres of roadways, 100 acres to sell at $200,000 per acre is $20 million in revenue for the Town of Fox Creek. It can potentially cost $8-10 million to develop, which leaves $10 million for the town to pocket to put towards other developments, such as a heli pad or new airport. There are many different things we could do with the money.”

Many residents are concerned if a heli-pad will be built and where, or the airport relocated.

“We talked about relocating and we’ve had discussions with STARS about a heli pad,” said Mayor Ahn.

He explained potential locations would be next to the senior’s affordable housing, so patients do not have to transported by ground ambulance, or possibly the fire hall area or future recreation centre location (behind/near the existing arena). A new landing strip area could also be on the North Road, near the landfill or South of town by the Trout Pond.

There is no room in town boundaries, which makes it really difficult and it is hard to get a temporary field authorization from the province, mentioned Mayor Ahn.

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Photos by B. Camilleri

Concerns from the gallery were transporting patients by ground ambulance to Whitecourt, the lack of paramedics and the need for more than one ambulance. A gentleman from the audience, working in the Alberta Health Services, commented Fox Creek’s airport had a helicopter fly in five times and a fixed wing plane, 11 times in the past year.

Questions were also asked about power, water and services to the potential new commercial area. Mayor Ahn said meetings were being held with ATCO.

Councillor Jim Hailes explained a lot of problems will be solved with the water, once the water treatment plant is complete in April 2016 and 13 new water wells are completed.

The Town of Fox Creek has $15 million invested for water upgrades. All funds for this project have been secured, including funds from the ‘Building Canada Grant’, $3 million in Provincial dollars and $3 million matched in Federal dollars.

“This is huge, as there is no cost to the taxpayer,” said Mayor Ahn.

“I think that the Public Hearing went well. It was good to hear people’s concerns as well as their support so that a well-educated decision can be made in the future if required.  Mayor and Council are still working on gathering all of the information and the development of plan to move forward. Any further discussions council has about the airport will be on the council agenda,” said the Town of Fox Creek’s Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Kristen Milne.

Discussions will continue and feedback is always welcomed. 

 

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Category: Brandi, Local Politics, Politics

About the Author (Author Profile)

Brandi loves meeting people and sharing their stories. A country girl at heart, she appreciates the simple things in a complex world.

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