South Peace News
Big Lakes County will soon charge fees for frequent flyers that land at the High Prairie Airport.
At its regular meeting Sept. 8, council approved a $50 landing fee policy at the airport which applies to an aircraft after 50 landings during a calendar year.
Agricultural operations such as air spraying are exempt.
The recommendation to council was approved by the High Prairie Airport advisory committee at its meeting June 30.
Heart River – Salt Prairie Councillor David Marx supports the concept.
“Anytime you can raise money, that’s a good thing,” Marx says.
Administration calculated the cost to the County to gather data, prepare an invoice and collect payment is about $43.50 per invoice, says Vic Abel, director of public works.
If $50 per landing is charged for 50 landings, the total fee would be $2,500.
It appears only medevac landings would be affected.
County records show the airport recorded 130 medevac landings in 2020, 113 in 2019 and 136 in 2018.
Other figures show that the airport recorded 38 business landings in 2020, 22 in 2019 and 37 in 2018.
“We wanted to get money from heavy commercial users,” CAO Jordan Panasiuk says.
He says medevac operators support the billing which is then paid by Alberta Health Services.
“This may be a round-about way to get a helipad at the hospital,” Marx suggests.
For several years, council has lobbied Alberta Health Services for a helipad at the airport.
Marx also suggested that the fee be charged for all landings for all aircraft.
However, Reeve Ken Matthews says the suggestion is not practical.
“It’s hard to track all this,” Matthews says.
Medevac operators regularly record their landings at the airport terminal, Panasiuk says.
All billed landings would be recorded in an invoice sent to the client at the end of each year.
Administration plans to present the proposed fees in the schedule of fees bylaw at an upcoming council meeting.