Kings County CAO: Airport move an ongoing process

John Decoste
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Tom MacEwan

Six hangar owners currently leasing space at the airport have served notice of legal action to Kings County council.

“They have retained Randall Balcome of Waterbury Newton to represent them,” chief administrative officer Tom MacEwan said. TMC Law represents the county.

Under the terms of the Municipal Government Act, individuals or groups contemplating a legal challenge against a municipality must give 30 days’ notice of their intent to proceed.

The legal action is “only a contemplated litigation at this point,” MacEwan said. The county, through its solicitors, is closely monitoring the situation, he said.

While council has passed a motion to close the airport effective Sept. 30, hangar owners currently leasing space are not required to move on that date.

“The land Michelin is looking for to expand doesn’t contain any hangars. The motion was that the hangar owners could stay until they can move to a relocated airport, but that flights in and out of the airport would cease Sept. 30,” he said.

 

County believes Michelin will expand

Although Michelin has not yet announced an expansion to the Waterville plant, approximately 100 employees from the Granton plant will be moved to Waterville.

“They’ve told us they can’t expand on their own land as long as the airport is still there,” MacEwan said.

“Making the land available to them is a priority. The county is confident a strong case can be made for an expansion to the Waterville plant. It’s been both productive and efficient. Michelin has invested heavily in it, and is moving workers here from other areas.”

Organizations: Michelin, Kings County council

Geographic location: Waterville

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  • Another Concerned Citizen
    May 12, 2014 - 21:04

    Actually, Grant Ferguson president of Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., has stated at the round table meeting of a couple of weeks ago arranged by the provincial government, that NO expansion is planned. Present were representatives from the Province, the Warden, the CAO, President of the Waterville Airport Cooperative, a representative of the aircraft hanger owners group, a representative of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association and of the Save Our Airport Task Force. The Warden has stated in print that Michelin will spend $500 million to expand. These statements would seem to contradict themselves. The REAL facts are that since opening its first plant in South Carolina in 1971, Michelin has invested $5 billion (billion with a “B”) in up-state South Carolina in 9 plants. They just opened a plant in December 2013 and upgraded another to support it to the tune of $750million. South Carolina has gifted Michelin the land, made $47 million of investments of infrastructure to support the new plants and given Michelin $9.1 million in grants. The MOK cannot afford to compete with this subsidization. The provincial government cannot afford to compete with this subsidization. Any business case study to spend $500 million has to face these facts! South Carolina has low tax rates, low electricity rates (especially compared to NS where they’re among the highest in Canada), and low wages. The elected representatives of SC are proud to promote SC as a good place to invest based on these facts. Because SC is such a good place to invest and since it already has tire industry support suppliers, Continental Tire and Bridgestone Tire have announced new plant investment or expansion of current tire making facilities to the tune of $1.7 billion (that’s billion with a “B”) since September 2013. BMW also builds cars in South Carolina. The new plant just opened in Starr South Carolina is based on a plant built in Anderson SC in 2006. That plant is specially designed to accommodate modular expansion and has been expanded 5 times since it was built. Both of these plants make the same line of “OTR” (Off The Road) earth mover tires as built at the Waterville plant. The Waterville plant already has an expansion on-going for its other tire line, for transport truck tires, it is worth $73 million and will take 5 years and add up to 50 jobs to the west side of the plant, not north toward the airport. These tires are also made in SC. The Warden is predicting an investment equivalent to the new modular plant in Starr SC but Michelin has been closing plants in Canada. Kitchener-Waterloo (BF Goodrich brand) closed with 1100 jobs lost in 2006, the same year the first modular plant opened in SC and Granton, this year with 500 jobs lost. Kitchener-Waterloo production was moved to the southern US to take advantage of lower costs while the Granton plant is too old to renovate economically. The Waterville plant is only 10 years newer. Each Michelin plant must compete with all of the others and the best business case wins. It would seem hard to believe that that given that the legal requirement that Michelin purchase the land for expansion at market price and that their rules say it must own the land before they can even make a proposal for expansion and that there will be no subsidies from any government level (per the new provincial government) and that all of the other costs from tax which is among the highest in Canada to construction to labour to electricity to shipping will be higher in Nova Scotia that there can be any hope of the $500 million investment the Warden has stated publicly that would be built on the airport. Any business case to spend $500 million has to face these facts! It is time for the Warden and MOK to drop this effort, keep the jobs currently at the airport and stop pushing an agenda which, looking at the (published) facts has very little to support it. The jobs of those employed at the airport and in the community cost nothing to create because they’re already there contributing to the economy. The current airport is an economic engine that spends $1.3 million dollars directly in the economy of the Valley in wages and materials and employs tax paying residents of the valley. Economic analysis by the consultant CBCL, in a report paid for by the Provincial Government at Michelin’s request, shows that the airport contributes $7.18 million dollars to the GDP of the province, $5.15 million in the valley region and as a result of the business at the airport and suppliers directly employs 154 people in Nova Scotia, 128 of those in the Valley. Businesses at the airport have already lost or will lose opportunities to increase employment and economic output of the airport because of the uncertainty caused by the controversy over the airport. It’s time to stop and look at the economic facts and support and PROMOTE the economic engine of the airport instead of trying to put valley tax payers out of work and turn the airport into a vacant lot costing money, not earning it! ACC