Commits over $900,000 Town ups funding for airport expansion

October 30, 2023, 8:14 am
Kevin Weedmark

A rendering of the Moosomin Airport expansion once it’s completed.

The town of Moosomin has agreed to contribute a total of $929,950 to help complete work on Moosomin’s airport.

There has been a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort to expand the airport with a new 5,000-foot runway to accommodate the Saskatchewan Air Ambulance, as well as commercial interests.

The new runway will be the third longest in the province, after Saskatoon and Regina.

So far, $6,456,111.57 has been spent on the project, but the total cost including paving, lights, and navigation will be $10,589,058.64.
Nutrien and the provincial government have each contributed about 25 per cent of the total cost.

The airport expansion committee was looking for local municipalities and local corporate donors to up their commitment to make up the $4.2 million shortfall.

With a commitment of $350 per capita, that works out to $929,950 for the town of Moosomin, the largest share among local municipalities.

At Wednesday’s town council meeting, council agreed to meet the full commitment.

The town previously contributed $100,000 to the airport project and $75,000 for the airport was included in the current year budget.

On Wednesday, council voted to increase the commitment this year to $150,000, and to budget $135,990 each year for the next five years to support the airport.

Councillor Ron Fisk even suggested increasing the commitment to an even $1 million. “It would make a good headline, and it would help get all the other towns and RMs on board,” Fisk said.

The idea was discussed, but council decided to just commit the amount that was asked for, noting that there may be further costs down the line.
Mayor Larry Tomlinson said the airport expansion is vital to the future of the area.

“The airport is really important, that and the CT scanner kind of go together so it would be nice if they could happen at the same time,” he said.
“The medical side of it is important, being able to bring the air ambulance here, and if we can also get the CT scanner, that’s a huge benefit for the whole area.

“Besides the medical side, there’s economic development. There’s potential for oil people or other businesses flying in and out.
“I know we brought in a paver to talk about next year’s paving and he was in Swift Current. He drove all the way here and he said, ‘If you had a half decent airport, I would’ve flown here from Swift Current’ because they have a plane.

“It’s things like that, it’ll just make it so much easier. There’s no way that it won’t—it has to and I think it will attract more business too, so it has to go.”

At a recent meeting on funding for the airport, the town committed to increase its commitment to $250,000, before agreeing at the council meeting Wednesday night to commit the full $350 per capita.

“At that open meeting I had promised another $150,000 to make it a quarter of a million (to date). As a council, we had to get together to make sure that we were going to go the whole way with the $350 per capita to get it to the $929,950, so at the last council meeting we did. Actually we were going to give them $150,000 over two years and we’re going to give them that in one chunk now which will give them a quarter of a million dollars and then we’ll spread the rest over five years. Ron’s idea was to just make it a million, which was a good thought, but we decided we need to just commit the $350 per capita. I don’t think that it’s going to end there because there might be more costs down the road.”

He said it’s important that municipalities share part of the cost of the airport.

“As far as I can see to make this thing work, it’s going to take an effort by everyone involved to get the airport finished.”

The mayor said he believes the airport is vital to the future of the whole region.

“It’s very important,” he said. “Very important, first of all, for the mine, it will keep them better connected, there’s oil field companies, there’s other businesses in town that I’m sure, rather than drive in here, they’d fly and they’d probably be here more often. It just has to happen. It’ll bring more business to town, there’s no doubt about it and it’s looking good, and of course on the medical side there’s no just no question how important it is.”

He said the town has to be cautious with its finances as it has borrowed for the water treatment plant and the airport will also be a big cost.

“We’re looking at everything very cautiously. We had to borrow three and a half million dollars for the water treatment plant but we worked it out so that the payment on the hospital is done this year, so now the payments going forward into the water treatment plant will take over where they left off.

“We weren’t sure where we were at because we had to borrow $3.5 million to cover our 27 per cent of the water treatment plant.

“It’ll all work out without raising taxes through the roof. Once we got that straightened out and knew where we were going, then we made the commitment to fund our $350 per capita. I hope all the municipalities do the same, because this airport is important to our future.”