Funding for Rural Manitoba Airports

 Airports are a very important part of the infrastructure in rural Manitoba although they are not always recognized as such.  They serve many important purposes – aerial agricultural application, tourism, business travel, government travel, supporting industries (like the oil industry), air ambulance service, emergency access (for example, for floods or fires),  recreation, ....  As the attached map, Southern Manitoba Airports, shows, public airports provide these services to virtually every area of southern Manitoba.  The areas served by public, non-federally funded airports are shown, those served by airports with paved runways in blue larger circles and those with grass runways in red smaller circles (thick black circles indicate federally funded airports).  There are also many private aerodromes (Lyncrest, St Francois Xavier and Starbuck have been somewhat arbitrarily included); they are also an important part of the airport network.

There is a small amount of annual funding available for maintenance of public airports through the Manitoba Airport Assistance Program, $1200 for grass strips and $2400 for paved strips,.  The intent of the MAAP appears to have been to encourage the development of low cost airports; as aviation has become more important to the continued development of our communities it is increasingly clear that the amount is insufficient.  Much of the airport infrastructure, some of it acquired at no cost to the province, is in danger of being lost without a source of provincial funding for major improvements or runway renovation.

Our sister provinces, Saskatchewan and Alberta, have such programs as did Manitoba with MACAP from the late 1990’s until its cancellation in 2004.  Click here to see the latest summary of Saskatchewan's Community Airport Partnerhip - CAP - program.  It is important that we lobby our government for a similar program.

A study (click here) was completed in 2011 and has been used to lobby for a 50/50 source of shared funding for capital projects at rural Manitoba airports.  Please feel free to use this study in your own lobbying.

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