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City of Grande Prairie guarantor for $12 million airport loan

The City of Grande Prairie will be borrowing $12 million to lend to the Grande Prairie Airport.

Chair of the Airport Commision Kevin O’Toole says the funding is being used along with $5.9 million from the airport’s reserves for expansions to its runway.

“We are doing an overlay of all the asphalt; there’s the area in front of the tarmac where the planes park, and also the extension of the one runway going from 6,500 to 8,500 feet.”

Along with being safer for planes to land, O’Toole also says it opens up the door for larger planes to use the airport.

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The City is needed as a guarantor for the loan as the Commission’s lease is up before before it will have to be fully repaid in 20 years.

Its outstanding debt will increase to more than $145 million until the loan is repaid, with interest.

However, O’Toole argues that in the long run, it will pay off.

“If we get customs, which we’re really hoping and we’re trying very hard, we could take off in a very large aircraft, one that basically we could take off from Grande Prairie and land in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta; we could do that.”

He adds that it was important to get the work done before traffic increases to 500,000 departures annually and they lose federal funding.

The work is expected to be done on time by the end of September.

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