March 16, 2018 6:47 pm
Updated: March 16, 2018 8:24 pm

Ownership of Lethbridge airport to be transferred from county to city

A joint meeting was held on Friday between the City of Lethbridge and Lethbridge County. As Quinn Campbell reports, the two municipalities joined forces to talk about a common interest, the Lethbridge Airport and growing the economy.

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The Lethbridge Airport will be under new ownership as of June 1, 2018.

On Friday, Lethbridge County and the City of Lethbridge signed a memorandum of understanding to transfer the ownership and governance of the airport from the county to the city.

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“In the last eight years or so we have been working together [with the city] to move the airport to another level,” Reeve Lorne Hickey said. “But as we move forward, we realize that to benefit everybody involved, the City of Lethbridge has a way larger population, has more use of the airport, so it’s time to move on.”

County and city council members voted unanimously to move forward with the change in ownership.

“We have to make investments in transportation infrastructure if we are going to have a viable economy,” Mayor Chris Spearman said.

“Today’s economy demands next-day service and delivery.”

The new ownership opens the door for better funding.

“The airport requires upgrading and the city has the financial capacity to apply for matching grants from the provincial and federal government,” Spearman said. “We have identified about $30 million in upgrades that are required at the airport.”

The county said the airport was breaking even financially, and the city expects that to continue. Spearman said adding the airport to the city’s list of facilities won’t come at an added cost to taxpayers.

“We want to go forward basically with priority-based budgeting, so we may have to say the airport is more important than some other things when it comes to capital and operating budgets.”

Spearman also said one of the first things to be done once the ownership changes hands will be lengthening runways so larger planes can land in Lethbridge.

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