On May 29, 2022, the new Air Terminal Building at the Port Hardy Airport opened to the public after seven years of construction. Project completion was celebrated by the Kwakiutl First Nation, Port Hardy Airport staff, colleagues, architects, contractors and project managers.
The new building, which features 15,000 square feet of departure and welcome areas, airline customer service and cargo handling space, passenger amenities and airport administration offices, will replace an existing aging facility. Planning for the project began in 2015, when Port Hardy Airport staff started discussions on the vision for the new terminal with Kwakiutl First Nation and master carver Stanley Hunt.
While the terminal will service residents and tourists visiting the north end of Vancouver Island, it also reflects and honours the traditional territory of the Kwakiutl First Nation. The airport serves as an entry point to their homeland, and the terminal opening was celebrated with an Indigenous blessing ceremony. Kwakiutl artist Mervyn Child was the master of ceremonies at the gathering and provided attendees with an overview of the history of the land. Jason Hunt, one of the Indigenous artists whose artwork is now on display at the terminal, along with Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas, Kwakiutl chief David Knox, and Jordan Nicholson, Acting Airport Manager, also provided remarks at the opening.
The terminal also stands as a testament to local craftsmanship, having been designed by a Victoria-based architectural firm. It was built to meet the highest standards for environmentally responsible building strategies. The building features high thermal-rated walls and roof, light diffusion windows, interior and exterior LED lighting, and enhanced security systems for airside to groundside access.
“I am delighted that Transport Canada built a new terminal building that is beautiful, modern and sustainable,” said Jim Chan, Transport Canada’s Regional Manager for Programs and Technical Services who led the project on the department’s behalf. Prior to its official opening this May, the airport’s new terminal received an Award of Merit at the fourteenth annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards in 2021.
The new terminal building will not only be a transportation hub for those looking to access local fishing, outdoor sports and nature, but it will also create employment opportunities for local residents. The project is also a positive step towards reconciliation and highlights the outcomes possible when governments and Indigenous Peoples work together.