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Council sets governance for Lethbridge Airport

​After hearing a presentation on the newly updated Lethbridge Airport (YQL) Business Plan, City Council also approved the governance model to move YQL forward.

In a 7-1 vote Tuesday, City Council approved managing the Lethbridge Airport as a City of Lethbridge Department. The YQL management team will remain as it is, with the Airport Manager reporting to the Director of Corporate and Customer Services.

This model will remain in place until YQL reaches the key triggers of: two consecutive years of $500,000 net operating profit and more than 150,000 annual passengers. Upon reaching these critical thresholds, implementation of a management contract directly administered by City management, or in combination with a Government‐owned Corporation or Not‐for‐Profit Authority or Commission, would be revisited.

With a post-pandemic lens, the YQL Business Plan 2021-2024 focuses on increasing passenger traffic and revenue diversification through land development. When fully developed, the YQL lands could provide $10 million annually in lease revenue and an additional $10 million in tax revenue.

"To make the airport sustainable, we need to diversify our revenue opportunities," says Michael Kelly, General Manager of Opportunity Lethbridge. "This business plan will fulfill the overarching objective of the City to grow the business, to make it sustainable and act as a net contributor, while also maximizing value and effectiveness of City and YQL resources."

"Strengthening the Lethbridge Airport has been a priority for this City Council," says Mayor Chris Spearman. "We know YQL is vital to the economic development, economic prosperity and tourism for the City of Lethbridge and the entire region."

As part of Tuesday's approval, the City's Airport Committee will be dissolved. This governance structure will be reviewed every two years at the Economic Standing Policy Committee. The existing Modalis Advisory Services Agreement will remain in place under its current form, with the Director of Corporate and Customer Services overseeing contract delivery and management.

Last week, the City was awarded $583,480 from Western Economic Diversification Canada's Regional Air Transportation Initiative to support critical improvements at the Lethbridge Airport that will enhance the customer experience. Previous to that announcement, Lethbridge City Council invested $2.6 million which was leveraged to secure $23 million in Provincial and Federal funding to helping eliminate safety risks, fast-track critical projects and position the airport for post-pandemic recovery.