Nanaimo Airport.

Nanaimo Airport.

Nanaimo Airport fire hall building set to begin

NANAIMO – Initial phases of construction at Nanaimo Airport include expanded firefighting services

With plans to expand its terminal in 2017 and a subsequent expectation of increased passengers, Nanaimo Airport is also building an on-site fire hall to adhere to Transport Canada regulations.

Mike Hooper, airport president and CEO, said ground will break next week on construction for the hall, with a price tag of about $900,000 and an estimated completion time of March.

“The fire department that we’re putting on site will have a three-minute response time for our people on site and then it might take whatever amount of time for all the other departments to be on site,” said Hooper.

He said there are currently two fire trucks on site, a striker and sterling fire truck, and personnel have been hired to handle firefighting duties.

“We’ve hired six new people to be multi-taskers and the firefighters. The multi-taskers, they’re going to be trained for firefighting … those same people will also help us, like with the snow event now, they’ll be driving the snow trucks and all that kind of stuff, so they’ll be the same people,” said Hooper.

He said the airport has been growing at a record pace for about six years and is now completing a 20-year master plan for the terminal building.

“We are currently expanding the pavement on the apron where the planes park, we’re expanding on the south and the north side of that,” said Hooper. “We are initiating a Phase 1 for the terminal expansion, which is next year, in 2017 and that’s going to increase our security area and our boarding lounge and our baggage handling area.”

The project is being paid for from airport coffers as well as grants from various levels of government.

“We’re going to do this in phases, so Phase 1 will be just about $8 million and so over the 20-year period, it’ll be about $54 million and that includes the terminal expansion and the parking lots. We’re increasing our parking lot substantially,” said Hooper.

He expects 338,000 passengers this year, which he projects will increase to more than 500,000 passengers by 2021.

In related news, Hooper said Alkan Air Ltd., a Whitehorse-based air ambulance service operation, is building a hangar at Nanaimo Airport to house its equipment.