Airport has high hopes feds will fund LRT terminal despite no budget mention

Airport LRT station
The Ottawa International Airport Authority has asked the federal government for $13.5 million to fund a proposed LRT station at the terminal. File photo

The Ottawa International Airport Authority says it remains optimistic it will receive millions of dollars in federal aid to help finance an LRT station at the terminal despite no mention of the project in Monday’s federal budget.

Spokesperson Krista Kealey said Tuesday that airport officials “weren’t expecting anything explicit” in the feds’ latest spending plan regarding potential funding for the station, which will be on a spur from the expanded Trillium Line that’s slated for completion late next year.

Kealey said the $13.5 million in funding the airport has requested from the feds would come from a separate program that was announced in last fall’s economic update, a plan that also called for rent relief at medium-sized airports until the end of 2024. She said the airport authority has been in discussions with Transport Canada “for months” about the request.

Ottawa South Liberal MP David McGuinty, whose riding includes the airport, told OBJ earlier this year he is confident the funding will be delivered.

“I continue to remain hopeful that (Transport Canada) is giving this its fullest consideration,” he said.

Cash for COVID-19 testing

Meanwhile, Kealey said the organization welcomed the feds’ plan to set aside $82.5 million to help airports across the country enhance their COVID-19 testing equipment.

Ottawa airport authority CEO Mark Laroche recently told OBJ that rapid COVID-19 testing technology is essential for the industry to recover from the pandemic.

“Testing is part of the solution,” he said. “We’ve been saying that from the beginning.”

The Ottawa airport is facing at least a $70-million shortfall this year amid the nosedive in air traffic over the past year.

Just one million passengers are expected to pass through the Ottawa terminal in 2021, down from 1.4 million in 2020 and 5.1 million two years ago.