Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A New manager for the Prince Rupert airport, waiting for a decision from the Appellate courts and the Olympic Flame flies into Haida Gwaii, some of the items of note for Tuesday.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
INTRODUCING RUPERT'S NEW AIRPORT MANAGER--Prince Rupert Airport has a new manager these days, as Rick Reed takes over the day to day operations of the city's aviation connection to the Lower Mainland and beyond. Tuesday's paper provides some background on the new boss and what plans he may have for the Digby Island airport.

Kax Kw'alaams has presented its case and the Federal government likewise, now begins the waiting process as both sides prepare for a judicial decision from the B. C. court of appeals. That decision could still be months away, but upon its release may change the dynamic of fishing on the North Coast in the years to come. A review of the presentations and some feedback about them was presented in Tuesday's paper.

Nathan Cullen's private members bill is examined as well, one day after the NDP MP for Skeena presented his bill to Parliament. As we outlined on this blog on Monday, Cullen's bill is designed to bring more accountability and some public oversight on in custody deaths and serious injuries to citizens while in the custody of the RCMP.

The City of Prince Rupert publishes its For Sale notice for the Watson Island pulp mill site in Tuesday's paper. Featuring a listed price of thirteen million dollars, the City details many of the attractions of the site and what any potential buyer might need to know about the process. (We posted a blog item on this topic on Tuesday night, which you can read here)

The Sports section features a look at the upcoming high school volleyball zones.

(Daily News Archive Articles for November 3)

The Northern View
Haida Gwaii welcomes the Flame-- The Olympic Flame arrived on Haida Gwaii on Tuesday, visiting a number of communities on the Islands and utilizing many forms of transportation, after its Island tour, the Flame was off for the Yukon and Northwest Territories and the start of its cross country tour (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Be Bear Aware-- The wandering bears of the west side of the city have received a fair amount of attention over the last few days, with shotgun toting Mounties on patrol and the call in for assistance now from Conservation officers (see item here)

CBC Northern British Columbia, Daybreak North
Lighting up Haida Gwaii-- The arrival of the Olympic Flame has generated some anticipation and excitement on Haida Gwaii, Daybreak discussed the Flame's arrival with Mayor Carol Kulesha (listen to interview here)

CBC Northern British Columbia, Daybreak North
Preparing for the future-- Some of the fallout from the announced closure of Eurocan in Kitimat is examined as Daybreak learns how CEP Union, Local 298 plans to help out its membership (listen to interview here)

Daily News, Front page, headline story
Introducing Rupert’s new airport manager
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rick Reed has been in the job not quite two months and is already working with the Prince Rupert Airport Authority to make some changes.

With over 25 years of experience at airports, including Sandspit and Terrace, Reed was last working in Sioux Lookout, Ont.

“I love the Northwest,” Reed said at the airport. “Most of my experience has been at small airports. There are always challenges, but I am excited.”

Reed cited the recession and its impact on the traffic at Prince Rupert Airport as one of the things to tackle.

“Our numbers are down by about nine and a half percent,” Reed noted. The local airport saw 62,855 passengers in 2008.

That’s typical with the rest of the country where some have seen a decrease of as much as 10 to 15 percent.

“There are some airports experiencing growth that have only seen a two percent drop. That would be places like Saskatchewan and Manitoba where economies have remained buoyant.”

Since beginning work on September 8, Reed had two official board meetings with the Prince Rupert Airport Authority and has also had several committee meetings.

Some of the society’s action plans include looking at ways to maintain service and, as things improve, to look at further development.

“Rick has got some good ideas about reorganizing the airport,” said Airport Authority Chair Maureen Macarenko.

“We are going to raise the profile of our airport with the help of Rick’s expertise and experience. We want people to recognize that our airport is here and we would like them to use it. Our passenger fees are our only source of revenue at the airport,” she added.

Prince Rupert airport’s operational budget is around $1,000,000, with revenue and expenditures hovering around the same amount.

In 2008, there was a small profit of $26,000. Profit, said Reed, is used to fund capital projects.

“We need to find new sources of revenue, a primary focus is cargo development and we want to expand our customer service.”

Presently there are vending machines at the airport for snacks and coffee, but Reed would like to see outdoor vendors in the summer months.

“A hotdog cart would be great. The plan is to investigate with local businesses. It wouldn’t be a sit down place to eat, but items that are prepackaged.”

Another concern is around the buildings and their maintenance requirements. Recently local contractors have been out to give Reed some cost estimates.

The terminal’s roof and 30-year-old windows need to be replaced, as do the interior and exterior. Erecting awnings to shelter passengers from the rain when they are walking to the terminal from the bus and out to the aircraft is another priority.

“We also want to renovate our maintenance buildings to make them more effective,” Reed added.

An electrical upgrade was recently completed to the tune of $2,000,000 that modernized the airfield lighting, runway guard lights, taxi and white lights and the power building.

The airport was able to access funds through Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Program.

“We have to pay a percentage of all major projects ourselves that is based on customer traffic. Our rate was 5 percent of the total cost.”

This year, the society will be applying to ACAP for funds to replace a plow truck and runway sweeper. That project will cost slightly over $400,000. In 2010 they will apply to replace a second plow truck and runway sweeper.

At the moment ACAP has four levels of project funding, but Reed, who has successfully garnered grants while working at other airports, has noticed that while the fund has outlined four priorities, it has yet to go beyond the first two - which are airside upgrades to airside supports, such as runways and taxiways, and heavy airside maintenance equipment.

The third and fourth priorities involve air terminal buildings, groundside safety and access.

“The fact that they have never funded level three or four is a sore point with several associations,” Reed explained.

Annually, ACAP funds between $35,000,000 and $39,000,000 for airports in Canada.

According to Reed, the dollar amount has not changed in recent years, although Transport Canada receives sizable rents from the national system.

“They also collect eight hundred million in fuel taxes and only put back in thirty-nine million,” Reed said, noting there are over 100 small airports competing for that money in Canada and 180 are eligible if they have scheduled service.

Reed, his wife Cameil, and their two-year-old son Brody have been settling into the community and all love Prince Rupert.

“We’re glad to be here,” Reed said.

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