Three quarters of municipal funding for airport expansion now committed

More than $2 million committed by municipalities, $725k still needed

November 20, 2023, 8:08 am
Kevin Weedmark

Municipalities across the region have  committed 74 per cent of the funds required from the municipal sector for the final stage of the Moosomin Airport Expansion project.

Moosomin’s airport expansion project is getting closure to completion, with most towns, villages, and RMs committing their share of funding for the project.

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.

Local municipalities have committed $2,016,130 toward the expansion of the Moosomin airport, and another $724,600 is needed to complete the municipal commitments to the project.

“When the amount increased with inflation and the project ended up being higher than we were anticipating back six years ago, we started looking at the formula,” said RM of Moosomin Reeve Dave Moffatt.

“To break it down to catch up with inflation, we went with 25 per cent provincial government, 25 per cent corporate from Nutrien, 25 per cent private business and corporate, and then the local governments coming up with 25 per cent. It would take $350 per capita from those local governments to meet what it was going to take to finish this project.”

Moffatt said it was great to see the town of Moosomin’s commitment of more than $900,000 to the project this fall.

“It’s huge. The other communities were waiting for Moosomin to be on board. Everybody knows the importance of what this project is going to bring to the community and surrounding area, and having the town of Moosomin make a commitment to contribute their share helps a lot.

“The municipalities have been really good about paying their share. Now there are the corporate and private donations that are going to need to come in to match this,” he said.

“We’re hoping that when this article gets out, the corporates and privates will see the municipalities are contributing their share and will say, ‘Okay, these guys are stepping up and now it’s our turn to.’ ”

Most communities have met $350 per capita commitment

While most municipalities have met the $350 per capita requested, some communities have not done so yet.

The town of Rocanville responded to the request by noting that they will consider the funding as they work on their 2024 budget, and the airport committee has not met directly with some of the other councils.

“There are still some communities that are on the list that we haven’t had the opportunity to speak with directly yet,” said Kendra Lawrence, CAO of the RM of Moosomin. “We have been working through those meetings.”

Lawrence said there have been some questions from municipalities.

“There have definitely been questions about where we are at, project-wise. There was a lot of concern around the total dollar value of finishing the project.”
“There was some concern over where it’s gone from six years ago,” said Moffatt. “I think we’ve answered and shown why that was—we’ve been fairly up front.”

Moffatt says the commitment from the municipalities makes it easier to approach businesses for support.

“Talking with a member of our fundraising committee, this will be greatly usable to go to them with a cover page and a one-pager and break it down and show them this is where it’s at and this is what we need to finish. He feels that it will be matching dollars that will flow in fairly quick,” he said.
“It’s that proof that the municipalities are behind it that was needed before any corporate or private sponsorships really started to flow in,” added Lawrence.

The construction schedule will depend on how funds flow in from this point.

“It could be pavement and lighting that could possibly happen at the same time. If not, then we would focus our attention on the pavement and make sure that that’s done first next year,” said Lawrence. “We’re looking at a February/March tender so it would be very nice to see that we have the financial commitments from municipalities, corporate and private sponsorships and that there would be enough to then put the tenders out at that time because we would hope that we’d get the best pricing and availability of contractors being that early in the year to have that paving tender put out.”

The RM may borrow to do some of the work before all of the committed funds are in place. “It will have to be discussed with council yet, but I think that will be our next step just the way that some of them have shown that they’ll be coming in,” said Moffatt.

“Most are within a year to two years and the Town of Moosomin’s is five and we completely understand the necessity of that,” added Lawrence. “With these contribution commitments and letters, it will definitely help to go forward with borrowing the funds to the Saskatchewan Municipal Board because they look at how you would repay your loan and so this is laying that format out for them.”

“It’s huge having a letter of intent showing that this will be met,” said Moffatt.

Moffatt said it’s great to be in the final stages of the airport expansion project.

“It will be unbelievable to finish this project and to move onto our next step of the CT scanner. As Dr. Van has done in presentations and shown the importance of it, it’s huge. To finish this and to move on is going to be great.”

“There is a true connection between having a paved, lit airport and that grand possibility of having that CT scanner come to our area,” said Lawrence. “It’s just one more thing to show that our community is growing in the right direction—the whole area is growing in the right direction.”

How much work has gone into this project to get it to this point?

“It’s been an unimaginable amount of hours and time, meetings and a lot of items that are behind the scenes of the construction, the actual physical construction of the airport,” said Lawrence. “A lot of people wouldn’t believe the amount of time that it’s taken to complete and keep the details in order and in the right time frame—everything in regards to Transport Canada, RNAV, all of that and making sure that we were hitting those timelines so that when we were able to do the earth work construction and that it didn’t hold it up and make it unusable for a year because we didn’t have the Transport Canada and RNAV complete. Jeff St Onge was very instrumental in that with knowing those regulations, applications and that air information.”

“It’s been a lot of work just keeping things rolling so that it doesn’t get forgotten about and people don’t feel like they’re not getting the information,” added Moffatt. “That was huge.”

“And we’re always open to a conversation. If there’s anybody out there that wishes to have a conversation with myself or David, please reach out,” added Lawrence.

“I’d sooner answer some questions than hear about speculation or people being misled.”

Work in 2024
Lawrence says she’s optimistic most of the remaining work can be completed next year.

“If we can go ahead with our paving in 2024—and I’m very positive that we’ll be able to do the electrical at the same time—it would be done and installed before the end of the construction season of 2024.”