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Victoria International Airport receives $1.3 million for safety upgrades

Pandemic-spurred federal help for YYJ over $4 million, including past relief funding
Victoria Airport Authority president/CEO Geoff Dickson, joined by transport minister parliamentary secretary Annie Koutrakis, speaks about new federal funding for the airport. The Wednesday announcement at YYJ came less than 24 hours after the airport was shut down for several hours upon discovery of a suspicious package at the departures check-in. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

A senior federal politician highlighted more than $4 million worth of support for Victoria International Airport (YYJ), but only a portion of it appears to be new funding.

Annie Koutrakis, parliamentary secretary to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, made the announcement Wednesday at YYJ on his behalf.

“As we work toward a safe and gradual restart of the aviation sector, investments in our airport infrastructure are essential to maintaining safety, security and connectivity for our travellers,” she said.

The injection of over $4 million will help the facility recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and support air services and infrastructure projects, Koutrakis added.

Of that total, more than $1.3 million in new funding will come from a Transport Canada program supporting critical airport infrastructure, including lighting upgrades for Runway 9, installing new land-based and water-based lighting systems and updating the existing float-plane dock to accommodate the new lighting system. The work will help maintain continued safe airport operations and essential air services for passengers, aircrews and airport employees at Victoria and surrounding communities, she added.

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Victoria Airport Authority president/CEO Geoff Dickson welcomed the funding announcement in light of the devastating financial impacts the pandemic has had on the aviation industry, noting the local passenger count had dropped 98 per cent at one stage.

“So we are severely grateful to the federal government for recognizing the economic importance of the aviation sector of the country as a whole, and in particular Victoria International Airport,” he said. “We are extremely thankful for the financial contribution that will allow us to continue and get back on our feet, and hopefully come through this pandemic as we put it in the rear-view mirror.”

Koutrakis said it goes without saying the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on airports and stressed the importance of YYJ not just to the region, but the rest of Vancouver Island. Despite these challenges, she added, Canada’s airports have shown incredible resilience as they continue to provide essential air service for their communities.

Dickson said later the airport received $3 million from the federal airport relief fund over the past year. “There is no timeline attached to that,” he said, but the timeline for the $1.3 million is the completion of the upgrades, which would be the end of 2022.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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