General aviation

Melting permafrost forces relocation of Thompson, Manitoba terminal

A concept of the new terminal building in Thompson, Manitoba (photo: Thompson Airport Authority).

The Canadian government is contributing $28 million to build a new terminal building in the northern Manitoba community of Thompson, after the old building started to sink as a result of melting permafrost, as part of a $70 million project.

A new, 45-thousand square foot terminal will be built west of the existing building. The government says the move is essential to “ensure the safe and reliable operation of the airport long term.” The terminal’s foundation has been sinking in recent years and is severely compromised as a result.

A new sewage lagoon and water treatment facility are also part of the project.

Plans for the new terminal include three gates and 10 check-in counters. It will also mean new taxiways and an apron large enough to handle five aircraft. New groundside facilities are also planned.

Thompson is a city of more than 13-thousand people in northern Manitoba, with the third-busiest airport in the province. It acts as a main base for Calm air, and as an aviation hub in northern Manitoba, with scheduled flights to Winnipeg and several small communities throughout the region.

Its location also makes the community vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“We’re extremely excited that Ottawa recognizes Thompson for its essential role in northern transportation,” said Thompson Region mayor Colleen Smook, which includes Churchill. “A new airport terminal will strengthen our networks, provide new opportunities for services, and ensure that Thompson continues to live up to its role as the Hub of the North.”

“Extreme weather is becoming more severe, more frequent, more damaging and more expensive because of climate change,” said federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in a statement. “By investing in the infrastructure that protects our neighbourhoods, businesses, and families, we are building communities that can withstand future natural disasters and thrive for generations to come.”

The funds are from a 10-year program designed to help communities deal with the effects of a changing climate.