Big Lakes OKs new fees

Richard Froese
South Peace News

New user fees for the Big Lakes County bus and commercial aircraft landing at High Prairie Airport are official.
At its regular meeting Sept. 22, council adopted an amended fees bylaw to add the two new fees.
Big Lakes Family and Community Support Rural Transportation Service bus is now available to groups for $530 a day along with a travel distance rate.
A rate of $250 a day plus $20 per passenger in the 14-seat bus and a travel distance rate was recommended by Mohammad Choudhary, director of corporate services.
However, council approved the higher fee suggested by High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Don Charrois.
“If somebody wants to rent the bus, they’ll have to pay for it,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.
He says it would be feasible to rent the bus only if it is mostly full.
“We’re not in the business of renting the bus,” South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart says.
The fee for third-party bus trips is in response to several inquiries to rent the bus from various groups, such as Pleasantview Lodge, the High Prairie Golden Age Club and Northern Lakes College for special outings, Choudhary says.
The airport fee was discussed by council.
At its regular meeting Sept. 8, council approved a recommendation to charge $50 per landing to fixed-wing commercial aircraft after 50 landings at the airport in one calendar year.
Agricultural operations, such as air spraying, are exempt.
“I don’t think $50 is enough,” Matthews says.
Other airports have a landing fee at the similar rate, says Vic Abel, director of public works.
However, Charrios says the rate could be reviewed in the future.
“It’s a starting point, we can always change it,” Charrois says.
CAO Jordan Panasiuk says the new rate would affect only medevac landings. He adds medevac operators support the fee which is then paid by Alberta Health Services.
County administration calculated the cost to council to gather data, prepare an invoice and collect payment is about $43.50 per invoice, Abel says.
Operators would be billed for the calendar year.

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