Fort Chipewyan Airport in Alberta is gaining a $1.588 million investment from the government of Canada to rehabilitate its airfield lighting system.

Fort Chipewyan is one of the most northern communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, in Canada, and can only be accessed by plane or boat in summer and a winter road in winter.

The funding comes from Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Programme (ACAP) and will help to ensure a well maintained airfield lighting system for safe airport operations. Transport Canada said this is particularly important for airports such as Fort Chipewyan, which has only six hours of daylight each day during the winter months.

“The Government of Canada recognises the important role played by Canada’s local airports in supporting jobs and access to remote communities, enabling investment and facilitating trade,” said the Honourable Marc Garneau, minister of transport. “Our investments are increasing airport safety and accessibility for residents and travellers, while supporting the continued growth of local and regional economies.”

The airport is owned and managed by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and is served by McMurray Aviation and Northwestern Air Lease.

“We would like to thank the Government of Canada for making this important investment in the Fort Chipewyan Airport,” said Marc Fortais, director of Public Works with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

“Public and transportation safety is our top priority at the Fort Chipewyan Airport and this new funding will help make the airport an even better asset for Fort Chipewyan and the entire region.”

“The airport is a lifeline for the Fort Chipewyan area as it also serves as an important hub for medevac services in what is Alberta’s oldest settlement. We are proud of the airport, its employees and all of the people that call Fort Chipewyan home — this is a great step in ensuring safety and fostering sustainable community and economic growth,” Fortais added.

Brian Harrold, owner of Northwestern Air Lease commented, “We are very excited about the announcement from Transport Canada about upgrading the lighting at Fort Chipewyan, as that will help us get in on IFR [Instrument Flight Rules] days.”

He explained that much of the carrier’s traffic is medical travel and the new lighting will help Northwestern Air Lease to land in IFR or low visibility conditions, meaning people won’t miss medical appointments due to the weather conditions.

In a press release, Transport Canada said: “Canadians, tourists and businesses benefit from safe and well-maintained airports. From visiting friends and family, to travelling to medical appointments, or getting goods to market, we rely on our local airports to support and sustain vibrant communities. These airports also provide essential air services including community resupply, air ambulance, search and rescue and forest fire response.”

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