By Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald (Image: Google Maps)

Merritt is one of 55 regional airports that will receive funding through a new grant program aimed at keeping small airports operational and providing essential transportation services.

“Our government is working to keep vital services operating during this unprecedented time, and this funding will help British Columbians — especially those in rural areas of the province — have a safe and reliable way to travel to essential appointments,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“We know inter-city bus companies and regional airports were in critical need of funding to keep their operations going during COVID-19. With this investment, inter-city buses and regional airports will now have the funding they need to continue operating and serving people.”

The province issued a one-time investment, providing $6.2 million to inter-city bus operators and $16.5 million to regional airports, supporting operations between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.

Merritt Airport falls under `Category D’ and will receive $90,000.

“I am delighted that the City of Merritt has received a $90,000 grant, specifically, the COVID-19 Airport Relief Grant, from the provincial government to support airport operations,” said Merritt City Councillor Kurt Christopherson, Airport Advisory Committee Chair.

“This grant is to cover expenses to operate the Merritt airport, including fuel purchases and ongoing maintenance such as crack sealing, building maintenance, and so on. This funding will be a huge boost for the airport and will allow us to get started on the fencing and lighting plan process in advance of budget completion. I’d like to thank committee members for their ongoing work and advice regarding airport improvements and operations. Committee input is invaluable and much appreciated.”