14 Wing Greenwood remains “a real option” for relocated airport: Brothers

John Decoste
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Diana Brothers

14 Wing Greenwood remains “a real option” as a site for a relocated Kings County Municipal Airport, says Kings County’s warden.

Diana Brothers was reacting July 18 to comments made at a meeting the previous evening in Canning on a proposed airpark for Saxon Street, at which the topic of the future of the Waterville airport was raised.

Brothers confirmed comments contained in a July 18 email from Deputy Warden Brian Hirtle, which stated, “the reality is, 14 Wing Greenwood is very doable.”

Based on his most recent meeting, Hirtle said MP Greg Kerr, the minister of national defence, and the wing commander “are all willing to look at the relocation of the Waterville airport to 14 Wing.”

An agreement, he said, would cover a 25-year period and “would be based on existing agreements with 19 Wing and 3 Wing.” Both these other bases house businesses, private aircraft and recreational flying.

There is an existing runway at 14 Wing not currently in use, as well as land available that could be utilized for new hangars, built with input from the Valley aviation community and contracted out on a local basis, he said.

“All Greenwood needs to know now is how big the aviation community wants the footprint to be,” including the size and number of hangars, Hirtle said.

 

Not at meeting

Neither Brothers nor Hirtle attended the meeting in Canning, but they received, and reacted to, a report from Coun. Kim MacQuarrie, who was in attendance.

Brothers said discussions for Greenwood as a potential site for a relocated airport date back to 2011. In response to a letter sent by the municipality to the Department of National Defence at that time, “they said it was something they would be willing to discuss.”

Hirtle sits on the committee that was struck and a preliminary report has been prepared. At the present time, discussions are ongoing, at the committee level, on the subject of a timeline. The next committee meeting is set for July 29.

“It’s always been our goal to find a new home for the Waterville airport, and it still is,” Brothers said.

Asked the chances of at least an agreement being in place with 14 Wing prior to council’s Sept. 30 closing date for the airport, Brothers said, “I can’t reply to that right now,” citing “a court case pending that our CAO is dealing with.”

 

Airport not abandoned

“It’s always been our goal to have both an expanded Michelin and a home for the airport. 14 Wing has been on the table since 2011, and is still a very real option,” Brothers said.

“(14 Wing) has said Waterville could be picked up and moved to Greenwood. We’ve asked them to look at relocating the existing airport.”

Hirtle is hopeful the committee will have a roll out of a plan to present soon. “The aviation community is aware of that plan,” he added.

No decisions have been made yet.

“The only thing for sure is that staying in Waterville is not an option,” Hirtle said.

 

Council open: warden

Brothers also took exception to other comments made at the meeting in Canning, including a suggestion that too many of council’s discussions, on this and other issues, were taking place behind closed doors.

In terms of the Saxon Street proposal, Brothers said council had received a request to make a presentation, in camera, on an issue “we were asked to keep confidential.”

The email came from Gordon Squires, acting on behalf of the Saxon Street airpark group. They were offered a chance to make their presentation to council’s July 22 committee of the whole meeting, “in open forum,” and they refused, preferring the presentation take place in camera.

“Any time we go in camera, it’s on the advice of our solicitor or our CAO,” for items covered under the provisions of the Municipal Government Act, Brothers said.

“Anything we can address in public, we do so. We’ve always done that, and will continue to do so. We’d rather it be done in public. We want to be as transparent as possible.” 

Organizations: Kings County Municipal Airport, Department of National Defence

Geographic location: Waterville, Canning, Saxon Street Greenwood

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Recent comments

  • Jenny E
    July 20, 2014 - 13:00

    I'm tired of these airport articles that have been on this site for months. There is more important things going on that should be written about. I encourage the newspaper to stop giving a small group of people so much attentions. There are so many positive community groups doing good work inthe Municipality they should get out and find out the good work that is being done!

  • Andrew N
    July 20, 2014 - 12:44

    I think the only reason why they don't want to move to 14 Wing is because they don't want ANY RULES! Right now they come and go as they please, drink at the airport etc. and that type of behaviour would not be permitted. I think the airport is a liability to the county. I agree with a move to 14 Wing where some structure can be put in place.

  • Robert T
    July 20, 2014 - 12:37

    I agree that the airport should be moved to Greenwood. If the airport community does not like it too bad! Its not their decision, they don't own the airport so why do they think they should have any say? They should be happy that the MOK is trying to find them a location! An airport in Canning or anywhere else where on farmland is not an option! Its just too expensive!

  • Robert T
    July 20, 2014 - 12:31

    I agree that the airport should be moved to Greenwood. If the airport community does not like it too bad! Its not their decision, they don't own the airport so why do they think they should have any say? They should be happy that the MOK is trying to find them a location! An airport in Canning or anywhere else where on farmland is not an option! Its just too expensive!

  • Bill D
    July 20, 2014 - 12:24

    the airport community needs to grow up, governments downsize people are laid off and people loose their jobs all the time. Look at what Harper has just done to the federal government, cut jobs and downsized where he thought the government was loosing money. I see this as the same things with the MOK! I think this is the right decision and I support the MOK.

  • concerned citizen
    July 19, 2014 - 22:23

    1t looks like nobody wants the Airport to move near them, and it also looks like there's no-where for the Airport to go ? The Dexter Govt spent 100,000 dollars of taxpayers money on this relocation issue and it would now seem to be a total waste of the taxpayers dollars ? And now Kings County Council has put the Kings County taxpayer in jeopardy by their covert and highly illegal actions against the Airport that could result in a multitude of law suits ? And as for moving in with Greenwood, any fool would know that the Military and the Private sector cannot mix in this way when it comes to Airports because any such scenario would jeopardize the security of our Nation ?

    • Bob A
      July 20, 2014 - 20:07

      if we were in a situation where national security was at risk no one would be flying (even out of waterville) come on people, use some common sense!

    • concerned citizen
      July 21, 2014 - 08:20

      When's the last time you saw an F-18 or a Hornet or a squadron of Auroras or a Herc flying out of Waterville ? C'mon BobA - use some common sense ?

  • Trevor P
    July 19, 2014 - 14:39

    seems to me no one will ever make the airport people happy all they want is to not pay fair market value for rent, not pay their insurance and to free load off the poor. Sad but true! Good job Municipality of Kings for standing up to these bullies!

    • Serge Duguay
      July 19, 2014 - 23:08

      Trevor, my friend...where the hell your comment comes from? You are so missinformed on the subject, you must work for the MOK....the airport pays rent, which in turn generates revenue for the municipality, insurances are paid up...and the best part...how do we free load off the poor? I work hard for my money, I am not rich, average wages, and I save up to fly. In no way YOU help me persue my dreams of flying recreationally. Speaking of bullies, the MOK are the bullies...by terminating those jobs without even consulting with anybody...conspiring behind closed doors like a bunch of cowards. How would YOU react if the MOK terminate YOUR job without even consulting you or your employer? I dare you to respond with some hard facts about your claims Sir.

    • concerned citizen
      July 19, 2014 - 23:42

      Why not just leave them alone, and I'm sure they'll all be quite happy ?

  • Concerned Aviator
    July 19, 2014 - 13:16

    This would be a great plan except for one thing, the "facts" Mr. Hirtle has put forward are mostly WRONG. There is no "unused" runway in Greenwood, he is likely referring to a taxiway that used to be a runway decades ago until it was chopped up to make room for access roads and the remainder was turned into a taxiway that is not designed to have aircraft landing on it. Who will pay the enormous price to have it resurfaced in order to make it safe again? Certainly not the municipality or the federal government. And I'm not sure where he thinks all this available land for hangars is. Even IF there was space it would be at the expense of hangar owners to leave behind their perfectly good hangars (for which the municipality has offered no compensation) and spend even more money building new ones...contrary to what appears to be popular belief, most of the aviation community is not rich, they do this out of a love of flying and the few who make a business out of it do so to put food on the table and a roof over their heads (and not much more!) just like anyone else with a job. Also, to echo what a few others have said, Greenwood requires prior permission to enter which would mean far fewer people could get in for gas (Waterville is the only place between Halifax and Yarmouth to buy AvGas) meaning all those tax dollars that go back to the community will be lost. As Serge said, the airport directly and indirectly brings in over a million dollars in revenue TO THE MUNICIPALITY each year in leasing fees for all the hangars and businesses on the airport, taxes on gas and businesses, money spent by those employed there (who will have to leave now), and hotels/restaurants/etc that receive business as a result of airport activities. When the land inevitably sits idle for years as Michelin decides IF they will do anything with it (and if Pictou county is any indication I seriously have my doubts) the municipality will see the error they have made.

  • Concerned Aviator
    July 19, 2014 - 13:16

    This would be a great plan except for one thing, the "facts" Mr. Hirtle has put forward are mostly WRONG. There is no "unused" runway in Greenwood, he is likely referring to a taxiway that used to be a runway decades ago until it was chopped up to make room for access roads and the remainder was turned into a taxiway that is not designed to have aircraft landing on it. Who will pay the enormous price to have it resurfaced in order to make it safe again? Certainly not the municipality or the federal government. And I'm not sure where he thinks all this available land for hangars is. Even IF there was space it would be at the expense of hangar owners to leave behind their perfectly good hangars (for which the municipality has offered no compensation) and spend even more money building new ones...contrary to what appears to be popular belief, most of the aviation community is not rich, they do this out of a love of flying and the few who make a business out of it do so to put food on the table and a roof over their heads (and not much more!) just like anyone else with a job. Also, to echo what a few others have said, Greenwood requires prior permission to enter which would mean far fewer people could get in for gas (Waterville is the only place between Halifax and Yarmouth to buy AvGas) meaning all those tax dollars that go back to the community will be lost. As Serge said, the airport directly and indirectly brings in over a million dollars in revenue TO THE MUNICIPALITY each year in leasing fees for all the hangars and businesses on the airport, taxes on gas and businesses, money spent by those employed there (who will have to leave now), and hotels/restaurants/etc that receive business as a result of airport activities. When the land inevitably sits idle for years as Michelin decides IF they will do anything with it (and if Pictou county is any indication I seriously have my doubts) the municipality will see the error they have made.

  • Concerned Aviator
    July 19, 2014 - 13:15

    This would be a great plan except for one thing, the "facts" Mr. Hirtle has put forward are mostly WRONG. There is no "unused" runway in Greenwood, he is likely referring to a taxiway that used to be a runway decades ago until it was chopped up to make room for access roads and the remainder was turned into a taxiway that is not designed to have aircraft landing on it. Who will pay the enormous price to have it resurfaced in order to make it safe again? Certainly not the municipality or the federal government. And I'm not sure where he thinks all this available land for hangars is. Even IF there was space it would be at the expense of hangar owners to leave behind their perfectly good hangars (for which the municipality has offered no compensation) and spend even more money building new ones...contrary to what appears to be popular belief, most of the aviation community is not rich, they do this out of a love of flying and the few who make a business out of it do so to put food on the table and a roof over their heads (and not much more!) just like anyone else with a job. Also, to echo what a few others have said, Greenwood requires prior permission to enter which would mean far fewer people could get in for gas (Waterville is the only place between Halifax and Yarmouth to buy AvGas) meaning all those tax dollars that go back to the community will be lost. As Serge said, the airport directly and indirectly brings in over a million dollars in revenue TO THE MUNICIPALITY each year in leasing fees for all the hangars and businesses on the airport, taxes on gas and businesses, money spent by those employed there (who will have to leave now), and hotels/restaurants/etc that receive business as a result of airport activities. When the land inevitably sits idle for years as Michelin decides IF they will do anything with it (and if Pictou county is any indication I seriously have my doubts) the municipality will see the error they have made.

  • Serge Duguay
    July 19, 2014 - 10:46

    More about the Bagotville and Comox models...as of today, those models don't work for general aviation. Those airports do have airline service, that works pretty good. Near Comox, they have Courtnay Airpark, the equivalent to Waterville airport. NOBODY is allowed to base their private planes out of Comox...they are to go to Courtnay. No if ands and buts... How do I know this? I know people out there with small airplanes. So, again, MOK is paying lip service to the public, selling a great alternative, which everybody in the aviation community knows cannot work...

  • Serge Duguay
    July 19, 2014 - 10:35

    @ Renee S, please get out of under that rock you live under and speak to the people at the airport and find out the average salaries of the people that use the airport for recreation. You would be surprised, I am one of them...I make average wages. I live aviation, I don't have an RV, I don't have motorbikes, snowmobiles or quads, I don't own a cottage. My recreation money goes to my love of airplanes. Wanna close the airport? Well, let's close all bike and snowmobile trails, close campgrounds, etc. How well will that go eh? Oh also, the MOK ONLY invest about 60000$ in that airport every year, for a return of over 1 million dollars, pretty good if you ask me. Now, let's not forget the jobs being loss...people that put sweat and tears in those business. With no reason, all of a sudden, they are out of work because the MOK decided so. I can only hear you be the first to complain if the MOK would terminate YOUR employment! Think about that!

  • Renee S
    July 19, 2014 - 08:55

    I'm probably the only person that wants to talk about the elephant in the room but I'm going to do it. I've been reading articles on this site for months and months about the Municipalities Airport. The fact is, its pretty hard for a majority of the Municipality of Kings residents to feel bad for the airport community. Seriously, for all of Kings County citizens to pay for an airport for rich business men, millionaires and doctors etc. to fly their planes on taxpayers money? Many of which make $30,000 or less a year? Seriously? From what I see, the airport community has been getting away with making money off the poor for way to many years and the fact that our local and now federal politicians are ready to stand up to them makes them mad. I think our municipal, provincial and federal politicians should be commended for standing up and representing the majority of Kings County residents and not just the rich ones. You probably notice as well that the same few people write negative comments and there is only a small group of people that always talk in the media about this issue but, a majority of Kings County residents are silent on this matter. Well, you know how the saying goes, silence means people agree with what is going on!

    • Another Concerned Citizen
      July 19, 2014 - 12:27

      Renee You are misinformed on so many levels. Silence means the majority know little or nothing about the issue and are being misinformed by the statements in the press from the elected representatives who promote only their agenda. 3 Wing and 19 Wing being used as references of what the airport moved to Greenwood could be are a good example. Comox and Bagotville are NOT community airports, they require 48 hours notice to request of permission to use the airport, just like Greenwood currently. These airports are essentially closed to the general public. The elephant in the room is the fixation the Warden & allies have for a Michelin expansion. If you look at the economic analysis on the AVFA.ca web site you will see that the possibility of the $500 million expansion the warden is promising is so remote that a politician supporting this path is gambling their political future and credibility on wishes and hopes, not facts. Ask the Warden to see the facts, a business case backing up her public statements of a $500 million expansion, it has not been demonstrated to exist. It is documented in industry press that for many years South Carolina has made a policy of attracting foreign companies like Michelin (9 factories, $5BILLION) to invest by giving incentives (taxpayer money) to foreign companies like: Daimler-Chrysler, Honda, SKF Bearings, BMW, Michelin, Bridgestone Tires, Continental Tires, South Carolina Yutaka Technologies, Metso Minerals, Tech Wood and Faurecia North America (car seating). As an example, between 2000 and 2004 they attracted $6.4 BILLION of foreign investment, creating 18,792 jobs, they are very good at this and willing to spend the money that the current governments are not and the MOK does not have. They have been named as the number one state for “in-sourcing” jobs from foreign manufacturers with 127,500 jobs created. They are not about to let Michelin spend $500 million in Nova Scotia and they have the financial clout to see that it does not happen. South Carolina even has their own “Michelin Bill” to ensure “incentives” can be given to the company. Nova Scotia does not have the wherewithal or interest to compete in the league South Carolina plays in. I’m a proud Nova Scotian but I also face the fact that our economy is not a manufacturing economy like South Carolina’s and I believe that destroying existing jobs for nothing is NOT productive. So, let’s talk about your misconception about millionaires, rich business men and doctors. Most of the money spent at the airport is to run the parachute jump school, or the flight school and students from other flight schools who stop while gaining experience for their licenses and the shops that maintain the aircraft. These are the large majority of movements at the airport. Typically these students amass very large debt to obtain license levels which allow them to work as a pilot, they are not rich or millionaires in fact often these people have to take second jobs to help pay for their education because only the most senior pilots earn professional level wages. The other significant users of the airport are the Air Cadets. These young people put their time to productive use by learning life skills that give them the ability to be leaders in the community and high achievers rather than hanging out at the mall. The highest achievers also receive flight instruction at the airport. You will recognize names like Chris Hadfield, Bryan Adams, George Canyon and Maryse Carmichael, the first female Snowbird and Commanding Officer of the Snowbirds, they were all Air Cadets. The aircraft owners come from many walks of life but the majority own or own shares in a typical aircraft which is about 35 – 50 years old and are worth about the value of a compact or medium sized new car, a few are owned by successful business men (and women) and professionals like Doctors who have gotten their money the old fashioned way, they paid their dues and they EARNED it! Instead of having a cottage on a lake somewhere they have an airplane, sounds very fair to me! As for the citizens paying for these people to “play” at the airport on taxpayer money, this is simply not true. The small operating budget the not-for-profit cooperative which runs the airport receives is of the order of $60k but the business that results from that small investment is repaid back many times over, see the CBCL report requested by Michelin and paid for by the NDP government, the facts are there. If the MOK did not contribute to the operating budget it would be they who were getting a free ride. The airport yields a GDP of $7.18 million and provides jobs for 154 Nova Scotians, most in the Valley region. The MOK and other levels of government earn tax on the money brought in every time it changes hands so the modest contribution is recouped many times over. The airport is an important economic driver for the valley Economic region and already exists so why put these hard working taxpayers out of work for nothing?

    • Matt O'Keefe
      July 19, 2014 - 12:29

      If you even spent an hour at the airport, you would notice that most of the activity there is from the Greenwood Flight Centre (flight school) and the Atlantic School of Skydiving. This includes teaching people to fly and skydive, DNR fire detection, Air Cadet Scholarships and sightseeing. I made a living at that airport for two and a half years, and certainly didn't fall under the rich business man or millionaire demographic you speak of, but I certainly contributed to the movements (second only to Halifax in Nova Scotia) there. That airport played a very significant roll in my career as well as hundreds of others, and the activity at the airport is something that every taxpayer can enjoy. Closing the airport for a possble (and unlikely) expansion before a commitment from Michelin is on the table is foolish. The airport currently contributes more to the economy than what is spent on it; The economics of your argument do not make sense.

    • Concerned Aviator
      July 19, 2014 - 14:37

      You are grossly misinformed about the aviation community! I am FAR from rich, not a doctor and certainly not a millionaire. In my 13 years in the aviation industry I have met two people who would be considered rich (they made their money in other industries and chose to spend a portion of it on aviation) the rest of us scrimp and save enough for an hour or two of flying here and there. There is a saying in aviation "the way to make a small fortune in aviation is to start with a large one." And the taxpayers do not in any way subsidize my flying! The handful of "rich" people who might fly in and out of Waterville a couple of times a year won't be hurt by the airport closure, it is the 154 employees who depend on that job to feed their families and put a roof over their heads who will be hurt, not to mention the municipality itself who will lose millions. As much as you commend the politicians I condemn them for lying to a public who doesn't know enough about the situation to question what they are being told, and THAT is why they are silent!

    • Serge Duguay
      July 19, 2014 - 14:45

      Silence does not necessarily means they agree...this case, silence means nobody is informed of what's going on...everything MOK does is "in camera" meaning behind closed doors...is that democracy?

    • Reality
      July 19, 2014 - 15:28

      @anotherconcernedcitizen: The best, most factual comment I've read thus far. Michelin has no plans to do anything in Waterville. People will be left standing with their mouths wide open in disbelief a few years from now when the airport is overgrown with weeds.

  • Rob D
    July 19, 2014 - 08:47

    This is great news! I think this is a win, win for everyone! The airport community should be happy with this but they are greedy so I'm sure this won't be good enough, its sad!

    • Serge Duguay
      July 19, 2014 - 14:22

      It has nothing to do about greed my friend...it's pretty much logistically impossible to operate a civilian flight school on an active military aerodrome. Just the way it is. Don't believe the lies the Council of MOK is trying to feed to you.

    • reality
      July 21, 2014 - 06:39

      Actually Serge, it's very possible to operate a civilian flight school on an active military aerodrome (CYZX). GFC did so in the past with minimal problem (I was a member then). Military traffic is way, way down. The slashing of flying hours continues and will only get worse. I live in Greenwood and the days of the traffic pattern being filled with Aurora's doing multiple touch-and-goes is long gone. Now it's a rarity to hear such activity. It's not ideal but it's doable.

  • Bob G
    July 19, 2014 - 08:11

    great news!!!

    • Serge Duguay
      July 19, 2014 - 14:27

      Is it great news? How so? Where is the solution to the problem of closing the Waterville airport? Please, enlighten us if you have more info, don't hold back and stoop down to the level of the MOK.

  • Mike Gourd
    July 19, 2014 - 05:00

    Greenwood is not a suitable replacement for Waterville, because Greenwood is a DND facility and prior permission is required before entry. This permission can be refused at any time; and has been refused in the past. This is not a good environment for a public aviation facility. This is not a good environment for a business that requires the airport to be accessible at all times. A suitable location must be established and operational before Waterville is shut down. Anything less would be a huge waste of public infrastructure with trickle-down effects throughout the community and province.

  • Serge Duguay
    July 18, 2014 - 22:07

    I have no idea where the MOK gets their info. They are only fabricating this story so they can "justify" closing Waterville, to the public, the idea of a move to 14 Wing is awesome. In reality...not, I was there when the Greenwood Flight Centre was asked to leave the wing. Why a change of heart from DND? Now, it's not impossible for a move back to the Wing. However, the Municipality of Kings are making themselves look extremely bad by not sharing any info with the stake holders of the Waterville airport. Especially when they do all their dealings behind closed doors and not sharing any info with the aviation community. "If" they had a meeting with the 14 Wing Commander, and the Minister of National Defense, don't you think those meetings would have some kind of publicity involved...to make the local aviation happy about having something done, instead of the Waterville users mobilizing with a campaign to save the airport and dragging the MOK's council down in the process? I believe if everybody worked together and had some kind of dialogue (I know the people at the Waterville airport tried to dialogue with the MOK to no avail), there would be pretty much no animosity towards the Municipality of Kings. So...I call their bluff...I bet the MOK has not recently met with 14 Wing, or the Minister of National Defense....Warden Brothers, step up to the plate and prove me wrong, I dare you! sergeduguay@hotmail.com

  • Another Concerned Citizen
    July 18, 2014 - 18:33

    I continue to be gobsmacked at how the Warden throws things like 3 Wing and 19 Wing out in conversation like they were easy and real solutions to use as models for "moving" the Waterville Airport to Greenwood. I don't know if this is by design or ignorance but the FACTS just don’t support the business case being promoted. At 19 Wing (Comox BC) fuel for the majority of the type of aircraft which use Waterville (aviation gasoline) is NOT available, ONLY jet fuel for the scheduled airlines there. Secondly, both 3 Wing (Bagotville) and 19 Wing are known in the field as PPR limited access. PPR means Prior Permission Required to land unless there is an emergency, just like Greenwood right now. Prior permission has to be asked for Two days in advance. These are not general use, PUBLIC airports like Waterville. This is definitely NOT a model to use for a realistic (“doable” in Hirtle’s words) option for “relocation” of the Waterville airport. It is clear that the Warden & followers want the airport gone irrespective of whether Michelin says they want the land or not and will seemingly go to any length to try and promote any option that gives the excuse to say they have provided an alternative then wash their hands of the people who depend on the airport for their livelihood. In my opinion, a shameful display of spin doctoring!