Cooking Lake Airport is hoping for provincial funding for a runway extension.
Strathcona County council passed a motion to support the airport's mission for funding in the form of a written letter to the appropriate parties.
"We're really grateful for that step by council," said Jim Johannsson, past president of the Cooking Lake Airport Condominium Board. "It's not a commitment for funding, but it's certainly a far cry from what we've seen from the previous mayor and councils in the past."
An expansion comes with a price tag of about $3.3 million. In the initial plan, about $1.625 million would be paid by the province, Strathcona County would be asked for about $837,000.
The board has been seeking funding for the airport since 2015 and has sought research on the possible benefits of expansion.
"The business case shows that a modest runway expansion would create an incremental GDP contribution of $319 million over the ten-year study period, which is quite impressive for a relatively small investment," said Johannsson.
The Cooking Lake Airport sees about 26,000 arrivals and departures each year. This accounts for about 87 percent of the total public demand for aviation services in Strathcona County, making Cooking Lake Airport the largest airport in the county.
"There's a unique thing about airports in that a lot of commercial aviation operators are not allowed to operate their airplanes on runways less than 3500 ft. for insurance and liability reasons," Johannsson explained.
The runway at Cooking Lake Airport is currently 3000 ft. In comparison, the Josephburg Airport, which sees only about 13 percent of the county's aviation traffic, has a 4500 ft. runway.
"Cooking Lake Airport has been doing this a very long time, totally on the backs of volunteers who are happy to do it. We'd really like to see the county step up and maybe share some of that burden."
Though council did not commit to funding some of the venture itself, the idea is not off the table.