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Airport expansion opens doors

Nalu Wilson, left, and Sria Inrig take part in a traditional First Nations dance during a celebration ceremony at the Campbell River Airport last Friday. - Kristen Douglas
Nalu Wilson, left, and Sria Inrig take part in a traditional First Nations dance during a celebration ceremony at the Campbell River Airport last Friday.
— image credit: Kristen Douglas

Campbell River is making “major strides in developing local tourism” with the expansion of the airport, said North Island Member of Parliament John Duncan.

Duncan, city council and local First Nations were at the Campbell River Airport Friday to celebrate the completion of the upgrade project and to unveil the airport’s first piece of original art.

The $8.3 million project broke ground in July and came in under budget by about $500,00.

It created an estimated 45,793 person hours of employment or approximately 22 years of work.

The project involved the extension of the runway by 1,500 feet to a total length of 6,500 feet, modernizing the airport terminal building, and upgrading the field electrical centre.

“These upgrades will help Campbell River greatly as one of the fastest growing municipalities on the Island,” said Duncan. “And it provides important transportation options into the city and the whole North Island.”

Bill Alder, who’s company, Sealand Aviation, is a fixture on the airport grounds, said with the expansion, the city is headed in the right direction.

“It has the potential to attract more business and corporate aircraft because of the extra length. Now they can fuel up here instead of having to stop in a secondary location to re-fuel,” said Alder. “It gives the city the opportunity to have discussions with other airlines. It opens up a lot of doors.”

He said the upgrade and expansion provides stability.

“In reality, it should have happened a long time ago,” said Alder. “Now that it’s done, the city should start a movement towards  really promoting the airport and the improvements there.”

To show off the new and improved terminal building, which now has an expanded departures area, updated check-in counters, and digital flight information boards, a celebration ceremony featuring traditional First Nations dancers, kicked off the unveiling of the new art piece that hangs from the ceiling between the arrival and departure gates.

Ken Blackburn and Bill Henderson worked together to create the piece – an aluminum airplane painted in traditional Kwakwaka’wakw colours called Thunderbird. Blackburn and Henderson’s work was selected by city staff from among 12 submissions.

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