The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) renewed its management and operations contract with Donahue Airfield Services for the South Cariboo Regional Airport at the July 14, 2023 board meeting.
The value of the new five-year agreement is $130,000 per year starting in June 2023, with an increase of $4,000 per year over the five-year term.
“While this is a significant increase from the previous contract terms of $100,000 per year, there are the obvious inflationary factors such as fuel costs to consider as well as the depreciating value of the maintenance equipment that Donahue owns and is required to provide under the contract,” said Darron Campbell, manager of community services in a report to the CRD board.
The previous contract expired at the end of May with CRD staff entering into negotiations with Donahue at that time. After reviewing the terms of the new contract the SCR Airport Commission, which consists of electoral area directors from areas G, H and L, a representative from the District of 100 Mile House and several members-at-large from the public and airport users, supported the recommendation for renewal.
“Everyone is very pleased with his operation of the airport. It was a seamless transfer from Nick’s operation to him walking in,” said area G director, Al Richmond. “He’s been very community minded and very open to taking calls from the public with respect to airport operations.”
Services provided by Donahue include providing day-to-day operations, general maintenance, maintaining the business front and public reception and security of the airport.
Some of the additional services include maintaining all aircraft maneuvering and operating areas, and property access routes including fencing, through snow clearing, sweeping, grass cutting and weed control on runways, taxiways, aprons, tie-down areas, roads and ground, routine maintenance of airport markings, lighting and navigational aids, collecting airport fees, performing aircraft refuelling services and oil sales as required, routine maintenance of airport hangar building and apartment and maintaining and calibrating navigational lights as required;
The contractor is also responsible for making sure all airport staff are properly trained and aware of their responsibilities in the event of an emergency.
Richmond added that Donahue is on call to answer flight-related questions and advise pilots of runway conditions on a regular basis.
Donahue will be overseeing the $6.3 million runway and lighting rehabilitation project taking place this fall.
Quesnel Paving was awarded the bid and will be bringing in gravel and an asphalt plant in order to make the asphalt at the airport. Richmond acknowledged this will be somewhat inconvenient for residents but said it isn’t practical to truck the material any further than they have to.
“We want to get a good base on there so manufacturing it right there is going to be a big plus,” said Richmond. “Currently they’re in the process, we couldn’t get any gravel locally so they’re having to crush it in Quesnel and they’ll be trucking it down to the 108.”
There wasn’t enough in the highways pit that the CRD tried to utilize and there wasn’t the ability to buy from some of the other pits that are in close proximity.
Richmond pointed out that this aggregate is very particular. “The asphalt mix they are doing here is not the typical what goes on the highway. It’s for airports,” he said. “Unlike the material we had to put down 25-30 plus years ago, which was a good quality asphalt for one of the highways, this is proper asphalt for an airport runway so we won’t end up with the deterioration issues like we had with the last one, although it’s lasted extremely well.”
This particular aggregate mix is required to hold strength. “When something comes down and hits the runway, it’s got to have that additional strength.”
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This old runway has done very well, he said. “Going forward we are hopeful this will last longer and since we are into regular maintenance regimes of sealing and crack sealing, – he does his own sealing so that’s a plus. We’ve improved the maintenance so that hopefully should make the surface last longer.”