Investments made to Thompson airport, Manitoba’s northern transportation hub

The Thompson Regional Airport is getting a cash loan from the Canada Infrastructure Bank in hopes of redeveloping the transportation hub.
The Thompson Regional Airport is getting a cash loan from the Canada Infrastructure Bank in hopes of redeveloping the transportation hub. Credit Canada Infrastructure Bank

It’s a major transportation hub for Manitoba’s north.

Now with millions of dollars in investment, redevelopment work can now go ahead at the Thompson Regional Airport. A $52-million loan from the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) announced Tuesday, will spark a process of redevelopment aimed at ensuring its safety and ability to support people’s access to airfare.

The airport, just northwest of the city, serves 37 northern communities — many of which are First Nations that are accessible only by air and ice road.

“Thompson is the hub of the north, serving a region of 65,000 people. Northern Manitobans rely on the Thompson Regional Airport to travel to and from the city of Thompson for work, education, shopping, tourism and health care,” Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook said. “This historic investment in important northern infrastructure is great news for the airport, for Thompson and for the north.”

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According to a press release on Tuesday, funding will go toward the following:

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  • The replacement of the terminal building, which is sinking into discontinuous permafrost.
  • The extension of sewer lines from the new terminal to an expanded lagoon, parking lots and service roads.
  • The building of new apron and taxiways along with an expansion of existing infrastructure.

Ehren Cory, CEO of the CIB, said the airport serves as a lifeline to communities in northern Manitoba and western Nunavut. He added in the release that the loan would ensure the needs of communities are being met.

“Representing the CIB’s first investment in redeveloping an airport, this partnership provides a safe and climate resilient solution benefitting the region for decades to come,” Cory said.

The funding is made possible by the CIB’s Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative.

Speaking to Global News, Thompson Regional Airport Authority chairperson Vincent Shumka said the agency had been working to modernize the airport since the early 2000’s. Alongside the CIB loan, the agency spent $60 million in the last two years working to keep the airport up to date, he said.

Shumka also added keeping the airport up to date and capable of meeting consumer and safety demands is vital.

“When you have remote communities that most of the year are only available to be reached by air – whether it’s by transporting people, medical or freight – if air is your only access the airport becomes that much more critical,” said Shumka. “This has been a long time coming for the Thompson Regional Airport Authority.”

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For Shumka, once the redevelopment phase is set, it could open up the doors for greater air travel and even opportunities for more commercial flights to other regions and cities. It’s something he said the agency is hoping the create the environment for.

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