For many years, COPA has been advocating for an expansion of federal government funding for smaller airports because of the important role they play as economic generators for communities, provinces and the nation.
The only federal source has been the Airport Capital Assistance Program but qualifying for funding remains limited to airports with scheduled air service.
In last December’s COPA Flight we reported on a new program called the Building Canada Plan. Its goal is to cost share on infrastructure improvements and it includes regional and local airports.
Of particular interest to our sector’s needs, the $8.8 billion in funding over the next seven years applies not only to public infrastructure (including airports) owned by provinces, territorial and municipal governments and entities, but also ones owned by private industry. As well, there is no mention of scheduled air service in the explanation of funding categories.
And now, we have just learned that Ontario has signed on to the initiative. The story is on the Building Canada website: www.buildingcanada-chantierscanada.gc.ca/index-eng.html and the agreement, which includes funding for regional and local airports, is at: www.buildingcanada-chantierscanada.gc.ca/plandocs/agreements-ententes/ifa-eci-on-eng.htm.
This is an opportunity for airports, now including Ontario, that are not serving commercial air traffic to have access to federal and provincial funding.
COPA has been working with the Ontario government and the Airport Management Conference of Ontario to re-introduce the Community Airports Program and develop criteria for smaller airports to qualify for funding. The Building Canada Agreement between the province and the feds will fit very nicely into this initiative.
There will undoubtedly be many competing interests for funding from the new program, but with the right push airports can be moved up the priority list.
Each member has a role to play in raising the profile of your airport and this new funding program. Bring this initiative to the attention of your local COPA Flight, Flying Club and airport management. Combine efforts and get to work on improving your airport.
Information about the Plan can be found at www.BuildingCanada.gc.ca.