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This article was published 23/7/2019 (185 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada is finally set for takeoff, with Ottawa coming through with long-awaited cash, the Free Press has learned.
International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr was to announce $8.8 million in federal funds for the project this afternoon at the Winnipeg airport, marking what museum officials said was the missing piece in making the $40-million project a reality.
Ottawa and the province have been in talks about funding the project for years, from when the federal Conservatives and provincial NDP were in power.
Since 1984, the museum operated inside a Ferry Road hangar, until its owner took back the property in October 2018. That has left aircraft scattered at airports and private homes across the province.
The new location, on Wellington Avenue across from the former Greyhound station, will feature a mix of military and commercial aircraft, making up Canada’s second-largest aviation collection.
The museum has a large range of bush planes, named for their role in serving remote locations that lack large runways by landing on wheels, floats or skis.
The newly constructed facility will span 86,000 square feet and house thousands of archival records, a classroom and a library. Its second level will include an observation deck to watch planes taking off and landing along the tarmac of the adjacent Winnipeg airport.
The project is estimated to cost $40 million to $45 million, and with Monday’s announcement, the province and Ottawa will each have contributed $10 million through a mix of infrastructure and cultural funding.
The city has also contributed $55,000 annually in recent years to the project, while the museum is gathering donations.
Sources familiar with today’s federal funding announcement say the cash was held up in a dispute over the province’s infrastructure allocation. Ottawa ultimately accepted Manitoba’s demand to keep this funding outside of the province’s 10-year federal infrastructure quota. Today’s announcement comes out of the New Building Canada Fund, an agreement inked during the Harper era, that continues for four more years.
The museum is set to open in 2021; its operators expect construction to begin shortly.
It’s one of six museums in Canada that hold a royal designation, which the Queen bestowed in 2014.