While it may have been a frigid morning, the smiles and spirits of council members of the City of Williams Lake were warm as they officially opened the Williams Lake Regional Airport’s new timber facade on Friday, Nov. 29.
The result of the collaboration of several local Cariboo businesses, a brand new timber facade now marks the entrance to the Williams Lake Regional Airport welcoming visitors and bidding a fond farewell to those flying out. Its simple wooden design embodies Williams Lake’s forestry heritage, while a carved cowboy hat to either side of the airport’s name acknowledges the rich history of ranching in the area and the Williams Lake Stampede.
Around a dozen people showed up to witness the official opening of the new addition with a ribbon-cutting early Friday morning with frost thick on the ground. There was little pomp or ceremony but Mayor Walt Cobb took a moment to thank everyone who had been involved in the construction of this project.
Cobb said this project along with other airport improvements has added around $1.5 million in investments to Williams Lake. It was completed thanks to a Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) economic development diversification grant and is designed to spark further grown within the airport. This project came about, Cobb added, thanks to the 2018 Airport Investment Plan adopted by Council.
“We have two scheduled commercial carriers, being Central Mountain Air and Pacific Coastal who accommodated 34,549 passengers in 2018,” Cobb said.
It’s also important to support the airport, Cobb said, as it services the Provincial Wildfire Management Branch and tanker base in addition to Canada Post, air ambulances and other vital aviation operations.
Cobb thanked the staff of the City for their work in organizing and overseeing the project, as well as the airports’ tenants and customers for their patience during construction.
Cariboo Regional District and NDIT chair Margo Wagner was on hand to cut the ribbon with Cobb.
“It’s my pleasure to come out to events like this. NDIT prides itself on supporting communities with the various grant opportunities that we have and something like this is a great addition to Williams Lake. I fly out of this airport frequently and this (facade) is lovely,” Wagner said.
Oliver Tritten of OT Timber Frames was also on hand for the opening and said he was incredibly proud of his team for putting the structure together over the course of three days. Tritten said originally they had submitted a design for $40,000 during the planning stages but that the city saw bigger designs and asked them to design one that would cost $120,000. They then just happened to be picked as the company who would put it all together.
When all was said and done, Tritten sad the project cost close to $160,000 as they went about $30,000 over budget due to a lot of changes from the original design that had to be made on-site, the biggest of which was making the overall structure eight feet longer.
“My guys were awesome, I have to say, it was a total team effort from office to design all the way to execution. We pulled this off in three days to get this structure undercover, the foundations were there but it was three days for the timber frame, the roof and roofing,” Tritten said. “It went really well and a special thanks to my crew for pulling that off.”
He especially wanted to thank his foreman Ruedi Baumann and project manager Lesley Allgrove for leading the team in the construction process.
True Consulting’s Dan Colgate, who helped design project, was also on hand to witness its opening. He said their main role was to look at the curve geometry of the road and ensure the design was safe for cars and passengers to use when passing through the archway.
“I think it came out really well,” Colgate said.