Penticton’s airport is looking at a multi-million dollar facelift in the coming years, a move that was applauded by Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.
A notice of proposed procurement put out on Public Works and Government Services Canada, which opened on Dec. 4 and closed on Feb. 7, expects to expand ticketing, security and the terminal, with an estimated price tag of $5 to 5.4 million.
“I’m happy to see the changes and the investment that’s been talked about in the last few years is actually coming to fruition and is being put into motion,” Jakubeit said.
“I think that’s good. This airport is such an important link, not just for our residents and our tourists, but also for our business community, so to see some attention and expansion being invested into that airport is a great thing not just for Penticton, but for the South Okanagan.”
Jakubeit said the investment means a longterm plan from the federal government in promoting Penticton as a hub for the South Okanagan, meaning travellers will not necessarily have to go through Kelowna to travel to and from the region.
Jakubeit said city hall and local proponents have been pushing for greater access to air services for the past six or so years, since the charge to bring Westjet to the city began.
The plan involves six phases, with the first phase set to move the car rentals to the south, and the restaurant will be removed to set up a temporary arrivals terminal. Phase two will see the expansion of the existing arrivals terminal, nearly doubling its floor space, based on proposed floor plans.
Once that is completed, phase three will convert the temporary arrivals terminal — where the restaurant is currently located — into a new, expanded ticketing area, with eight check-in booths.
Phase four is set to shift the security area to the south, making way for an expansion of the post-security departure gate in phase five, which will also set up a temporary passageway to the new security area in anticipation of phase six.
Phase six is proposed to set up a new restaurant and pre-security departures waiting area in the space that currently holds the airline check-in and part of the current security area.
With much of the makeover expected to expand the airport, Jakubeit said he is hopeful it will help attract more flights in and out of the city, especially after the city lost its extra seasonal winter flights last year.
“There’s also a hope that there will be some increased frequency from the carriers and enhanced service options from the various carriers,” Jakubeit said.
“I think that would be a good thing, and I think having Transport Canada invest into the airport is sort of a good sign, a good first step to see improved air services.”
He added WestJet did announce four more weekly flights from Calgary to Penticton this summer, although that addition is part of a seasonal schedule that has typically seen those flights removed from the winter schedule.
WestJet media relations did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.
According to the procurement website, the project has four interested suppliers: Nabco Canada Interior Automatic Doors, DDC Technical Services Ltd., OK Door Service Ltd. and TOA Canada Corporation.
Public Works and Government Services Canada had scheduled an optional site visit for interested parties on Dec. 13 last year, according to the site.
A contact on the project said the successful bidder will likely be selected within the next week.