March 2nd, 2021

Work at airport clearing path for business

By GILLIAN SLADE on November 19, 2020.

All the construction activity at the airport is about putting infrastructure in place for future development, and by next summer new signage and landscaping will beautify the entrance off Highway 3.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE

The current construction upheaval at the airport is an early stage of development that will begin to materialize by next summer, the city says.

When you turn into the airport off Highway 3, the development is taking place on both the sides of the road.

“We are bringing online two commercial lots along that entry way,” said Chris Perret, director of land development and real estate for Invest Medicine Hat.

A four-acre site on the left is where the original foundations of hangars relating to the Second World War air training base were. These have now been removed.

This section is expected to appeal to a specific type of business.

“Probably it’s going to be more tech-based,” said Perret, noting that the attraction may be a little different in the area closer to Viscount Avenue.

On the right as you approach the terminal building a two-acre site is being prepared for future commercial development.

The kind of businesses expected here include a gas station, a fast-food restaurant or sandwich place with coffee, he said. It will be the type of businesses typically seen near airports around the province.

Currently the work taking place is utilities infrastructure for future development. With that in place the city hopes to attract a developer to build premises and bring in new businesses.

Perret says not much more will be accomplished before winter sets in. More will take place next spring.

Once the landscaping is complete there will be a red illuminated YXH sign standing nine feet high plus beautification in evidence by next summer.

Last winter development took place further west – closer to the CanWest hangar and Holsum Road – but the whole project will take several years.

In the spring of 2018 the airport closed for three weeks for major rehabilitation of the main runway and taxiway pavement surface. The total cost was $12.9 million, covered by a federal government grant.

About 12 years ago there was talk with the provincial government of making changes to Highway 3 to allow for extending the runway.

At the time real estate prices were increasing, and to avoid having to expropriate land, a decision was made to purchase property such as a service station near the end of the runway. The provincial government then changed its mind and that brought plans of extending the runway to a halt. In December 2017 the provincial government once more talked of twinning the Highway 3.

At the time Mayor Ted Clugston had this to say:

“They may move on this but will we be extending the runway? No. Not in the foreseeable future.”

The runway is currently 5,000 feet which limits the type of aircraft that can land here.

Clugston has previously stated that the 5,000 feet is enough for what our community currently needs.

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