October 20th, 2019

Future airport plans include hotel

By GILLIAN SLADE on August 17, 2019.

An aircraft takes off from Medicine Hat Regional Airport and soars into the sky on Friday. The city is moving forward on plans for development of the airport, including provisions for a hotel.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

The city is moving forward with plans for major development at Medicine Hat Regional Airport that includes provision for a hotel on site.

Project manager Ian Hakes says plans for the first phase include airport-related commercial lots, hangars for larger airlines and a possible hotel.

He points out most airports have a hotel within walking distance or a short distance away in a shuttle.

“That’s our vision,” said Hakes.

The advantages of having a hotel at the airport are numerous, he says. People arriving on a late flight can simply walk to the hotel and check-in. Those leaving on an early morning flight spend the night before at the hotel saving time in the morning.

Hakes says there are no deals in place yet for a specific hotel.

“The plan is to have the land available and market it for such,” said Hakes, noting it is a case of being ready when a hotel is interested.

The city’s vision for the airport was presented at a municipal planning commission meeting this week. Approval was requested for various bylaw amendments. This will now go before city council. The bylaw amendments will facilitate airport-related business opportunities, for the first phase of the development.

Some of the plans are seen as necessary steps in order to attract more airlines to Medicine Hat. This could include space for bigger hangars that can provide indoor space for large aircraft and even servicing or repairs of aircraft.

“We’ve got some brand new, big lots for major airplane companies. We’ve got land set aside for leases with design guidelines in place … and serviced,” said Hakes.

For a number of months construction work has been taking place at the airport, which has been visible from Gershaw Drive. Hakes says this was the first stage – putting in place the infrastructure for water, sewers, power and road access.

The passenger traffic at the airport has increased significantly with Air Canada and WestJet providing scheduled service, making the timing for additional facilities sensible, said Hakes.

A hotel at the airport could also attract additional restaurants to the immediate area.

“We are not going to say ‘no” to anything than can be related to the quality of the airport,” said Hakes, noting there are two larger pieces of land closer to the terminal that will be for commercial use.

Those concrete pads that are left over from the Second World War training base, which are now dotted with overgrown weeds, will be removed.

“We’re going to make it marketable and developable and when you come in you are going to feel like you’re entering into the city,” said Hakes.

When it is all complete there will be nothing unsightly but rather pleasing architecture and appealing landscaping, said Hakes.

“We’re going to have a big beautiful sign when you’re driving into Medicine Hat. It’s going to say Medicine Hat Gateway and when you’re leaving town another sign … with YXH because that’s the acronym/call sign for the airport,” said Hakes. “The whole intent is to beautify it and make it a destination location.”

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