The Cariboo Regional District assumed ownership of the South Cariboo (108) Regional Airport in 1981, following negotiations with Block Bros. who originally constructed the airport to facilitate access to its subdivision development at the 108 Ranch. Since that time, the operations of the airport have been overseen by an Airport Commission which is responsible for monitoring its operations and development and making recommendations to the Cariboo Regional District Board. Taxation is collected on the basis of a local service area to cover basic operational costs such as the annual operating agreement with the airport manager, insurance, and minor maintenance items. Due to its limited budget, however, the airport has traditionally relied on senior government funding for any major improvements.
The role of the South Cariboo Regional Airport in the region is significant. The airport serves to connect the community to the provincial, national and international air transportation network. This connection allows the area to become more attractive to industrial and commercial interests, improving its potential for economic development. The airport has hosted flight training schools and scheduled service at various times on a somewhat sporadic basis. Corporate traffic accounts for approximately one-third of the annual airport movements, demonstrating the airport’s significance to the economic viability of the region. Medivacs (medical evacuations) from this location approximate 50 annually on average making the airport extremely important to the residents from a health and safety perspective.
The operations of the airport are overseen by a local Commission comprised of a combination of elected and non-elected members representing the Electoral Areas G, H and L and the District of 100 Mile House. The Commission is responsible for monitoring the fiscal status of the function as well as overseeing the operations of the airport. The Commission may make recommendations to the Cariboo Regional District Board with respect to budget levels, capital needs and operational requirements.
The most significant component of the budget relates to the annual operating contract with the Airport Manager who is responsible for the general maintenance and operation of the airport. As noted previously, major capital items are reliant on senior government funding. As such, no significant capital upgrading is proposed for the near future from the annual operating budget. Applications for funding assistance under the Air Transport Assistance Program are submitted annually with identified projects being undertaken in those years that grants are forthcoming.
Construction of airplane hangars at the airport are currently under way through somewhat of a private-public partnership whereby private interests are paying the capital cost of the construction while the Regional District is providing the property, airport access, construction tendering and project management.