Future of Alberta Aviation Museum up in the air as City Centre Airport closure date nears
EDMONTON – With just two days left to vacate the City Centre Airport, it’s a tough time for many aviation companies. Also going through some challenging and uncertain times is the Alberta Aviation Museum.
“(There’s) a lot that we’re still trying to figure out,” said Executive Director Thomas Hinderks. “A lot of change, a lot of adapting and a lot of uncertainty.”
All aviation activity at the airport will come to an end on November 30, meaning the museum will no longer be able to fly aircraft in and out of the site.
“What we do know at this point is the existing fence line is all the room we have, which means there are roughly 14 aircraft plus the 737 that need to get off the site.”
Wednesday afternoon, Hinderks was still working out the final details to move those historic pieces off the airport land.
“It’s that tight, down to the wire.”
The past few years haven’t been easy for the museum. Since the staged closure of the City Centre Airport began, the museum has faced financial troubles.
“In 2010 we were in the black. With the staged closure of the airport, we pushed into some minor losses in 2011-2012. This year, more losses,” Hinderks explained.
He says the museum has been working with the City to discuss funding options, but his worries remain.
“We’ve been working with the aviation folks over the last four or five months and it’s certainly been some hoops and hurdles to go through, but things are progressing well as far as I’m concerned,” said Rob Smyth, Branch Manager, Community and Facility Services with the City of Edmonton.
“There is some funding through the Heritage Council to support the Aviation Museum and other museums. So there’s some financial support that all museums will be eligible for.”
Smyth says the museum is an important part of Edmonton’s history and the City will be working “hand and glove with them to make sure that that museum stays.”
“It’s a provincially and municipally designated historic site, that hangar. So to have some really important aircraft displayed in that facility is important.”
Hinderks, a man who’s extremely passionate about the city’s aviation history, agrees with Smyth and says he refuses to let the museum fail.
“Our intent is, we’re here to stay,” Hinderks explained. “This is the doorway for young people, for older people, it’s the doorway to history and it’s Edmonton’s story. So we will do everything possible to remain on site and to remain in place.”
The museum’s current lease expires in 2017. So far there’s been no talks about extending that date.
With files from Shane Jones, Global News.