Airport lawsuit could be withdrawn if Kings County accepts counter proposal

Kirk Starratt
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Gordon Squires, Waterville Airport Co-op chairman

If the County of Kings accepts their joint counter proposal, Supreme Court legal action concerning the closure date for the Waterville airport would be withdrawn.

Waterville Airport Co-operative Limited chairman Gordon Squires said Randall Balcome, the lawyer representing the hangar owners and airport co-op, has sent a joint counter proposal to the County of Kings lawyer. Squires describes it as a “constructive and reasonable direct reply” to the municipality’s strategy passed by council on July 29. They’ve given the municipality until Aug. 22 to accept the offer. If the offer is accepted, the legal action will be withdrawn.

Squires said that the hangar owners group and the airport co-op are not the initiators of any actions; instead, he said the groups are defending themselves against the municipality’s “unilateral surprise actions” that have violated the contract between the County of Kings and the airport co-op.

The hangar owners and airport co-op have tried to initiate negotiations with the municipality but the county “has been unwilling to negotiate anything.”

After the hangar owners group initiated its defence, the municipality argued to the judge that the hangar owners did not have legal standing to be heard by the court and that only the airport co-op did.

Squires said this was still to be determined by the court, but “to simplify, clarify and expedite things for all concerned,” the airport co-op joined the defensive suit to make it clear that it expected the municipality to honour all terms and dates in its contract with the airport co-op.

Squires said that as a result of council’s decision to halt the work of the Waterville Airport Relocation Project Steering Committee, the co-op has asked the steering committee’s aviation representative, Paul Easson, to form a small committee known as the Airport Transition Committee.

Easson, as chairman of the committee, will choose a small number of airport co-op members to assist him. The committee will be accountable to the airport co-op board and will report periodically. The three-part mandate will include determining the viability of relocating the airport; finding a presenting a green field option not zoned as farmland and determining and presenting other details that will provide “very long-term certainty for general aviation in the region.”

 

The joint counter proposal

 The following is a joint proposal from the Waterville Airport Co-operative Limited (“WACL”), the Annapolis Valley Flying Association (“AVFA”) and the AVFA task force to the Municipality of the County of Kings (MoK). The “Hangar Owner Group” (Applicant’s in Hfx. No. 428858) is also in agreement with this proposal:

 

1. A restructured or replacement entity for WACL (the restructured entity) will be the new governing body that will operate and manage a new airport facility/location;

2. A minimum of $1.8 million in infrastructure funding (the estimate sale price to Michelin) will be paid to WACL by MoK now to finance the airport relocation, and more funding will be provided by any amount received by the MOK for the sale of the airport property in excess of $1.8 million;

3. The restructured entity will be the body to organize and negotiate with all relevant parties with respect to a new airport location;

4. The restructured entity will assume responsibility in all expense issues relating to the airport relocation; it will not look after any site remediation at the current Waterville airport site;

5. The restructured entity will investigate the best option for relocation, whether it’s Greenwood or a Greenfield;

6. $32,000 will be granted by MoK to WACL to be used for the engagement of a consultant to create a ten year business plan for the long term planning of the new airport facility;

7. $10,000 will be granted by MoK to WACL to be used for the engagement of a consultant to provide recommendations on the governance model that will be best suited for the long term ownership, management and operation of the new airport facility;

8. The current property on which the respective Hangars Owners have located their hangars will be subdivided and granted to the respective Hangar Owners;

9. The ownership in all airport related equipment and structures located on the Waterville Airport property and owned by the MOK will be transferred to WACL;

10. The MOK will honour all of the terms, including terms with respect to the date on which the MOK may close the Waterville Airport, presently contained in leases/contracts between the MOK and WACL and the respective Hangar Owners;

11. The MoK will grant an extension of the current management agreement it has with the restructured entity to the point in time that a Greenfield or Greenwood general aviation airport is operational.

12. The Hangar Owners will withdraw their present lawsuit with no costs payable to any party.

Organizations: Airport co-op, Waterville Airport, Supreme Court Annapolis Valley Flying Association Waterville Airport Relocation Project Steering Committee Airport Transition Committee Michelin

Geographic location: Kings, Hfx

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