© John DeCoste - kingscountynews.ca
Make farmers the focus when moving the Waterville Airport, says Kings North MLA John Lohr.
The provincial Waterville Municipal Airport Relocation Study released last year identified and assessed four potential sites, including development of an airpark at 14 Wing Greenwood.
‚ÄúAs a lifelong farmer, I know how hard good agricultural land is to come by,‚ÄĚ Lohr said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs vital to the rural economy that this be taken into consideration in any decisions related to the relocation of the Waterville airport.‚ÄĚ
According to Statistics Canada, the Annapolis Valley has lost 1,200 full-time jobs in the last year.
In March, Kings County municipal council passed a motion to close the airport effective September 30 to make way for a potential $500-million expansion by Michelin. There have been numerous stakeholders opposed to the closure, including the Waterville Airport, which has asked for a one-year extension.
One group has proposed relocating the airport to Saxon Street on the site of a current grass landing strip. The proposal has become controversial, with the North East Kings Citizens‚Äô Group opposing the move because it is on farmland.
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Regardless of the final decision, Lohr would like to see the preservation of farmland as a priority in the ongoing discussions.
‚ÄúThe Michelin expansion is very important to the economic future of Kings County,‚ÄĚ Lohr said. ‚ÄúBut a functioning airport and workable farmland must also be taken into consideration for strategic growth.‚ÄĚ