The Lacombe Airport has been renamed the Lacombe Regional Airport after a collaboration between the City of Lacombe, Lacombe County and the Lacombe Flying Club brought in some much-needed improvements to airport.
The main improvements include a new taxiway, as well as essential new LED lighting which were in part paid for by a grant from the Government of Alberta.
“It is a very big day,” Flying Club President Jon From said. “We have more than just a new name, we have a new taxiway we develop last fall that is allowing for new hanger construction to begin this spring and that gives us a chance for sustained growth at the airport to ensure we will be here for another 50 years.”
According to From, the runway lights were around $200,000 and the taxiway was around $150,000. From said the lights are a huge improvement for fliers.
“The old lighting system was about 50 years old and it was well past it’s prime — parts were no longer available,” he said. “We got a grant from the Province of Alberta last summer, as well as financial contributions from the City, County and the Flying Club, to put in the new LED lighting system.
“It is a state of the art system that makes flying much safer.”
The grant also has another benefit according to MLA Ron Orr, who said the old lights will help repair and place older lights at the Innisfail Airport.
“What happened is that all of the lights in Lacombe were given to Innisfail to repair their lights and they will be good for a few years,” Orr said.
These improvements, to an airport that sees anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 flights per year according to From, have also opened the door for future developments.
“This year’s project is finishing paving the oldest taxiway which has asphalt about 50 years old is hopefully being repaved and we will put in a new parking lot on the west side to service the new hangers going in on the north end,” he said.
From said the collaboration on this project will help ensure the airport is viable for the foreseeable future.
“We have signed a new 25-year lease with a 25-year renewal a year and half ago, so the airport should be here for at least another 48 years. We have lots of room to grow and we hope to slowly grow with the community,” he said.
Lacombe County provided 25 per cent of the capital costs of these projects and Reeve Paula Law said she was impressed with the commitment of the Lacombe Flying Club.
“This airport has been in the region for 55 plus years and is being totally run by volunteers — you don’t see that very often. To be able to help out and provide some funding support to keep it going is something we are very pleased to be doing.
The City of Lacombe provided 50 per cent of the cost and City of Lacombe Counsellor said the Club has allowed the partners to plan more efficiently.
“The Flying Club has developed a strategic plan which has given direction to what needs to be done over the next few years and that has been very valuable during budget planning.”
Orr said that changes at the Red Deer Regional Airport have led to growth opportunities for Lacombe.
“It is great to see this one grow and the reality is with the Red Deer airport is that as it grows, it is becoming a larger commercial hub,” he said. The smaller flights, recreational fliers and the flight training groups are being pushed out and coming here and to Innisfail.
“These airports are improving as that airport takes on a different mandate and focus.”