— By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
Town of Stettler council approved a flight plan into the future for the regional airport. The decision was made at the Feb. 21 regular meeting of council.
The 2022 to 2042 Stettler Airport Master Plan was presented by Director of Operations Melissa Robbins with comments from Coun. Wayne Smith, who was on the steering committee.
The introduction to the document spelled out how important the master plan was, as a clear flight plan is needed for the facility or its future plans may never get off the ground. “Building a master plan for the airport allows us to ensure we have a viable airport for emergency services, supporting aerodrome operations, and ensuring the economic viability of our community by identifying priorities and setting outcomes for the airport,” stated the master plan.
“Creating a master plan allows us opportunity to apply for provincial and federal funding for improvements and helps support decision making for the long term.”
The plan identified several important capital projects to keep the airport modern, safe and effective, including the primary project of a runway rehabilitation project priced at $1.6 million. The master plan noted the airport partners including the Town of Stettler and County of Stettler will apply every Nov. until successful at obtaining provincial funding of 75 per cent.
Also on the priority list is the establishment of a secondary safe landing area by re-establishing the north-south grass strip. Robbins stated during discussion that Stettler’s airport is orientated east to west which is not always ideal for certain winds and a secondary landing area would be a wise thing to have.
Robbins noted the master plan also includes several operational priorities, including terminal building repairs and renovations, security upgrades at the airport including a locking main gate and wifi availability for anyone visiting the airport. Robbins reported a new gate as already been installed and a locking pinpad system has been mentioned.
Robbins pointed out the airport is very well cared for by the Stettler Flying Club, which also did a lot of work on the master plan. The plan took several years to complete as the committee only met a few times a year.
Robbins reported an open house was recently held which attracted 25 participants who also contributed input into the master plan.
As well, the committee developing the master plan examined 25 other airports of similar size to Stettler’s and compared features and amenities.
Robbins noted the master plan’s focus was to have all stakeholders looking forward to common priorities instead of conflicting visions.
The master plan also included a detailed timeline of improvements and activities at the airport dating back to the 1950’s, adding that the Stettler Flying Club was instrumental in many of these improvements.
Coun. Smith noted the master plan was a three year project and he was happy to see it reach fruition.
Coun. Scott Pfeiffer asked how the fuel system at the airport is handled. Robbins responded that the Stettler Flying Club owns the fuel tank, that only aviation fuel is available and that she believed it was a self-pay system operated by credit card that’s been there for two years. She also added that there is a security camera at the airport but that more security features were being considered.
Councillors unanimously approved the Stettler Airport master plan as it was presented.
(Photo: Town of Stettler)