Future of Rimbey airport remains up in the air

A group of four area men who want to purchase the Rimbey airport will have to submit a bid for the property.

 

A group of four area men who want to purchase the Rimbey airport will have to submit a bid for the property.

Pete Couchman, Paul Kusch, Wayne Danser and Gerald Ernst want buy the airport, which includes about 60 acres of land and upgrade it to a 24-hour facility. The men put in an offer to the town, but were told there is a process to be followed, which includes advertising the property and accepting sealed bids.

However, Mayor Rick Pankiw said council will follow the process outlined in the municipal government act, but will include the stipulation that the land to be sold remain as an airport.

“It is our intention, one hundred per cent, that the condition of the sale be that it remain an airport.”

Speaking on behalf of the potential four buyers, Ernst said he is pleased that stipulation has been put into effect.

“That was the best we could have hoped for, now we will have to wait and see.”

Following an in-camera session at the June 27th meeting, council agreed to spent $1,500 to hire Water Mackie Valuations Inc. to perform an appraisal of the Rimbey airport.

The airport was originally owned by Ponoka County and sold to the Town of Rimbey for $1. Acting CAO Donna Tona said because it was a sale of land belonging to one municipality being sold to another municipality, the same process of advertising and bidding wasn’t required.

The men want to bring the airport and runway conditions back to its original state.

Ernst explained that centerline potholes and low spots have developed on the runway as it must be rolled, while saturated, every two years.

“To the best of our knowledge this has never been done. The reason the runway still remains usable is due, in part, to the resident enthusiast’s past and ongoing pick-up truck and shovel repairs to the dips, potholes and numerous old plowing divots.”

In a letter to town council, the group of four stated the town would realize a savings of $30,000 in 2016 by having no costs associated with the airport. They would have no liability risks and would reap benefits of an increased number of aviation visitors and permanent users.

The airport, if sold to the interested parties, would have the status of ‘registered airport’ with Transport Canada.

“Rather than dwell on shortcomings from past operations, we wish to focus all our efforts on building a better and brighter future for the Rimbey Airport. From day, one, this has been a very noble project, and it is our sincere goal (if we purchased the airport) to realize the full potential a well-run and maintained airport will provide to our community,” the letter stated.

The letter also states Rimbey airport is one of hundreds of airports Transport Canada constructed and owned across Canada. All of these airports with the exception of Churchill airport, were signed over the local jurisdictions, flying clubs and various municipalities and associations without financial return to Transport Canada.