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Village of Beiseker plans to sell local airport

The Village of Beiseker is hoping to sell its local airport, citing the high costs associated with the facility and staff’s lack of expertise in running it.
LN-BeisekerAirport
Beiseker Village council is hoping to sell the municipality's airport, located just east of the village, in the near future.

The Village of Beiseker is hoping to sell its local airport, citing the high costs associated with the facility and staff’s lack of expertise in running it.

After a recent Village council meeting included discussion surrounding the airport’s potential sale, the municipality published a post on its Facebook page to inform residents of the plan to sell the amenity. The post was written by Chief Administrative Officer Heather Leslie, and signed off by members of Beiseker Village council.

Leslie, when reached afterward, said council approved a decision back in April 2020 to proceed with offering the sale of the Beiseker Airport to a private entity.

“The concept is, the airport should be properly maintained by someone with a vested interest in it – by professionals who know how to run an airport, rather than people who are not experienced in that, who are the staff of the Village office,” she said.

The Beiseker Airport was established in 1984, according to the Village, and is located just east of the town limits. For a period of time, it was owned by a number of local municipalities.

In 2010, the Alberta government turned ownership of the airport over to the Village of Beiseker, and provided approximately $1 million in funding to resurface the runway.

According to Leslie, the Village owns the land the airport sits on, even though it is located in Rocky View County. This means all development at the facility is approved and regulated by the County, rather than by the Village.

“Currently the County provides the Village with the property taxes imposed on the land, but these funds do not cover the cost of running the airport,” the Village’s Facebook post stated, adding the revenue from the airport only supersedes expenses by about $7,000 a year.

Beiseker’s council has discussed the possibility of selling the airport since 2019, says Warren Wise, a recently re-elected councillor who was Beiseker’s last mayor. (The position of mayor will be appointed at the incoming council’s first meeting, on Oct. 26).

“The real issue is what benefit the airport being owned and operated by the Village brings to the Village,” he said. “We’ve looked it over and decided the benefits it brings are limited, and the responsibility of operating an airport is really beyond the scope of what the Village is able to do.”

Wise said the airport is currently quite active, housing a sky-diving business and a flight school, as well as privately owned hangars on leased property where pilots store their small-engine aircraft. A café is also located on the airport grounds.

Leslie said the Village recently commissioned an engineering study that indicated the lifetime of the airport’s current runway and taxiway is about 18 years, and the facility will require upkeep and runway-resurfacing again in the future.

“Although we have been told that the provincial government is being lobbied to look after these costs, there are no guarantees,” her post stated. “Given the current status of the provincial deficit, council feels it would not be prudent to rely on this funding.

“The council of Beiseker is not prepared to have the costs of those repairs become the responsibility of the taxpayers and villagers,” she added. 

Her Facebook post stated that, before the Village is able to proceed with the sale of the airport, the municipality is first required to obtain permission from the Alberta Minister of Transportation. According to Leslie, that permission was initially requested in April 2020 and an approval was finally received this September.

Leslie added whether the Village of Beiseker or some other private entity owns the facility, its future will likely be to remain as an airport.

“The airport will likely not change usage as a result of the sale,” she said. “The leases that are currently signed will be transferred to the new owner as a result of the sale.”  

The Village’s post stated the sale of the airport will likely be advertised sometime in November. Council has determined a price tag of $1.3 million, according to the Facebook post, which aligns with Rocky View County’s current property value assessment of the facility.

However, Leslie said numbers and timelines are not set in stone, adding the incoming Village council will be responsible for making those decisions.

“By order of the Minister of Transportation, the Village will be required to spend or hold this money for current and future road/transportation needs,” the post stated. “Given the status of some of the roads in the village and the constant requirement for repairs, this money would go a long way toward ensuring we are keeping our roads safe and well-maintained.”

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