Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is getting a $38.4-million boost from the federal government to help it recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding will be put towards dyke and drainage system improvements to protect the airport from rising sea waters and storms. It will also be used for the extension of the Runway End Safety Area, which will provide extra space for an aircraft to stop safety in an emergency or in the event an aircraft leaves the end of the runway.
The money comes from the Airport Critical Infrastructure Program that was launched in May, through which Ottawa will distribute $489.2 million over five years to airports to improve safety, security and large transit infrastructure.
“We are investing in infrastructure critical to (Canada’s larger) airports, which may have otherwise been at risk of being deferred or cancelled because of financial challenges due to this severe drop in traffic (during COVID-19),” said federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, speaking from YVR on Friday morning.
Tamara Vrooman, the airport’s CEO, said the funding will help ensure the airport is well positioned to continue serving “the community and the economy that supports it” through the pandemic recovery.
The federal contributions to the YVR projects will be up to 50 per cent of total eligible costs, up to a maximum contribution of $38.4 million. The airport will provide the remaining funding for the projects.
YVR saw a significant drop in passenger traffic during the pandemic. In the summer of 2019, for example, about 90,000 to 100,000 passengers would pass through the airport daily, but last year it saw only about 17,000 travellers a week.
The airport also terminated a major infrastructure program in September 2020 – which included a new central utilities building, a geothermal heating and cooling system and a ground transportation centre – due to the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry.