A group of four area men who want to purchase the Rimbey airport and return it to a year-round use facility will have to bid on the project and can only hope their dream has the financial backing to actually wings and fly.
Pete Couchman, Paul Kusch, Wayne Danser and Gerald Ernst put in an offer to purchase the airport to the town, but acting CAO Donna Tona said there is a process to follow regarding the sale of the airport.
According to the MGA, Tona said town owned land needs to be appraised and advertised and put out for bids, which must be sealed and delivered to the town.
“There is no shortcut,” said Tona. “I admire these men’s enthusiasm, but everything has to be done the right way. We have to follow the MGA process.”
The Rimbey airport was originally owned by Ponoka County and sold to the Town of Rimbey for $1, but Tona said because it was a sale of land belonging to one municipality being sold to another municipality, the same process wasn’t required.
Ernst said the men who put in the offer, himself included, are all concerned about the continued decline in the quality and usability of the Rimbey airport.
“We are extremely well qualified to take over the airport and would sincerely appreciate the opportunity to do what we know how to do.’
The men want to bring the airport and runway conditions back to its original state.
“We want the airport to be a vibrant asset for the community and we want people to congratulate the town of Rimbey on the quality of the facility in their community.”
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.”
Ernst said proper runway maintenance is critical to ensure the safety of the people using the airport.
“Pilots have to know the runway is always in top condition.”
Ernst also gave credit to the resident caretaker, Evelyn Prince’s ongoing upkeep efforts.
In a letter to town council, the group of four stated airports do not make money.
“Rimbey airport is no exception. The rewards reaped are in seeing it work to its true potential.”
The men also pointed out benefits the town would gain if they accepted their offer of purchase.
As well as proceeds from the sale, 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 owners would provide a written guarantee of primarily aviation use for as long as they owned the airport.
The airport, if sold to the interested parties, would have upgrades completed to include 24-hour use and have the status of ‘regististered 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.