The city of Port Alberni has agreed to advance $70,000 to the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to help fund the Regional Airport expansion.
The ACRD requested during a Monday, Nov. 27 meeting of city council that the city advance funding from its community works gas tax fund to help cover a funding shortfall.
The purpose of the community works gas tax, however, is to fund capital projects undertaken by the city that contribute to city-owned infrastructure.
The funds were instead pulled from the capital works reserve fund, the balance of which is projected to be $314,000 at the end of 2017.
In a report to council dated Nov. 20, director of finance Cathy Rothwell noted, “The ACRD’s airport expansion project adds valuable infrastructure to the Alberni Valley that includes significant benefit to the City, and fits within the purposes for which the Capital Works Reserve was established.”
All Alberni Valley electoral area directors have agreed to match the city’s contribution on a per capita basis.
“It’s us as part of the collective being asked to pay a little bit extra to get it completed,” said Mayor Mike Ruttan on Monday.
He explained that the airport expansion saw about $1 million in overexpenditure and overruns for various unforeseen expenses and holdups.
“A lot of the overexpense and cost overrun is caused by needing land to be tenured to us from the province,” added Councillor Jack McLeman, who is also a representative on the ACRD board. “And that had to go through the Ministry of Lands, Forests and Natural Resources. That seems to have been a difficulty from day one.”
Councillor Chris Alemany pointed out, “This is a major project, and it’s a project that’s grown. It’s completed as far as the lengthening, but it needs a GPS and the lighting, as well.”
The project is projected to be completed in 2020, which, according to mayor Mike Ruttan, has to do with some federal approvals.
“That’s a bureaucratic reason, rather than financial,” he said.