Construction at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport has required re-construction of an access road to at the northwest end of the runway, and the cost will put the project $535,000 over budget. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Road construction at Alberni’s airport puts project over budget

Regional district scrambles to find $535K

Construction on the Northwest OLS Road at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport will put the $6 million runway expansion project over budget by $535,000.

The Northwest OLS Road, a forest access road, is being relocated as the current location is height restricted due to the expanded runway length. Construction is needed in order to provide full utilization of the runway expansion and lighting, according to the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

Bowerman Excavating was awarded the tender for the road at a price of $1,154,610 after GST.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) staff have suggested using funds from the AVRA capital reserve, which is sitting at $80,000, or apply for funds from the Alberni Valley Community Forest Legacy Fund to finish the project.

“This is one of the final projects that we have on the airport expansion…and we’ve been fortunate throughout the whole process that the cost has come on target, or less than on target, based on our original estimates that we saw in 2014,” said Andrew McGifford, manager of environmental services with the ACRD at a special board meeting on July 12.

“We have to look at the options to get this work completed because it does need to be done…we can do this within the capital reserve funding but it will exhaust all our capital reserve.”

The option was also suggested by ACRD staff to look at gas tax funding to use for the airport roads.

“There are some capital projects we still need to do. We need to maintain some capital reserve,” McGifford said.

Sproat Lake director Penny Cote, who also sits on the Community Forest committee, said approaching the group for funding could work.

“Our mandate is to ensure that the funds that are collected are for the Valley, not specifically for the City of Port Alberni, so I would see this as a project that is very well suited for the community forest,” Cote said “They have already participated with the airport with one contribution in the past so I think this is a good fit.”

Beaufort director Mike Kokura raised concern about digging into gas tax money to fund the road work, saying that the airport is an ACRD and City of Port Alberni project but the gas tax funds would be coming from only certain electoral areas.

“We’re not going to be carrying the weight of this whole project with that particular money unless there’s a formula worked out where everybody that is involved in the project of building the airport participates,” he said.

Terri Fong, ACRD finance manager said if the ACRD chooses to use gas tax money, that it would in fact be coming from the electoral areas gas tax fund and not the City of Port Alberni

“Staff are just presenting this as an option because if we proceed with this project we’re going to basically exhaust the majority of the capital reserve without an ability to really replenish it in the next couple of years,” Fong said. “We’re trying to come up with options to try to not exhaust that funding.”

A motion was passed to support the building of the road using capital reserve funds.

Road construction will begin within a week and is planned to be completed by September.