Settlement possible in Kings County council, aviators conflict over Waterville airport closure

Kirk Starratt
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A potential settlement agreement between the County of Kings and applicants in legal action against the municipality, a group of hangar owners and the airport co-op, is in the works. – File

Move could help avert legal action by aviation community

There could be a truce on the airport front.

A plan is in the works that could see the closure date of the municipal airport in Waterville extended and legal action averted. A staff report from Kings County staff published on the municipal website for a Sept. 2 council meeting contains a recommended motion to amend the airport relocation strategy approved July 29.

The closure date would be extended to Sept. 30, 2015, as long as aviation users confirm their agreement in writing by Aug. 31. This would be done through motions passed by the Waterville Airport Co-operative Limited and the Annapolis Valley Flying Association, accepting the conditions as proposed by the Municipality of Kings.

County chief administrative officer Tom MacEwan said the roles proposed by the municipality for aviation users include creating a new governing body: an organization that is arm’s length from the county and which operates as a business. This group would lease land, own infrastructure, operate and manage the relocated civilian airport facility at CFB Greenwood.

The second condition would be that this new group would continue discussions with 14 Wing with the goal of successfully negotiating a lease and operating agreement for the relocated civilian airport. MacEwan said the aviation users were not asked to endorse the entire relocation strategy, only the two roles proposed.

 “Assuming that the aviation users accepted the roles (which extends the closure date from September 2014 to May 2015), I am recommending a further extension from May 2015 to September 2015 to accommodate some issues identified by DND which will take some time to address,” MacEwan said.

Base move feasible

The staff report states 14 Wing Greenwood has confirmed a feasibility study shows “there was nothing found in the study that precluded a relocation of the Waterville Municipal Airport to CFB Greenwood.”

The base has advised that an environmental issue has arisen which could require additional study, depending on the scope of the airport footprint. The federal Treasury Department and the Department of Justice say the base is required to issue an expression of interest or request for proposals for the establishment and operation of a civilian airport facility at 14 Wing.

The report states that the extension of the closure date to Sept. 30, 2015, would allow the additional time necessary for the expression of interest or request for proposals stage and an environmental assessment.

Hangar owner group spokesman Dr. Tom Goddard has said the hangar owners and airport co-op would withdraw a legal action in progress against the municipality if the closure date were extended to Sept. 30, 2015. He could not be reached for comment prior to publication.

A source from within the aviation community reported on the basis of anonymity that a tentative multi-party settlement agreement was reached verbally Aug. 26 at the courthouse in Kentville.

 “The litigation has been adjourned to permit the parties to explore settlement,” is the official statement from CAO MacEwan.

The settlement agreement involves the Annapolis Valley Flying Association and the Waterville Airport Co-operative Limited each separately passing a six-part motion demonstrating their agreement. The aviation community source reported that both entities voted in favour of the six-part motion during meetings in Cambridge on Aug. 28. However, the municipality must meet further conditions by Sept. 16 or the aviation entities will withdraw support for the motion.

The six-part motion…

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;Once created, the restructured entity will takeover and continue to organize and negotiate with all relevant parties with respect to a new airport location;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;Once created, the restructured entity will takeover investigating the best option for relocation, whether it's Greenwood or a Greenfield.

Further:

We support and approve the creation of the new WACL – ATC (Airport Transition Committee) as already documented and created by WACL Chairman, Gordon Squires. In the future, when appropriate, we approve the ATC committee may become part of the restructured entity;Within 4 business days of MOK completing the following 2 items we herewith instruct the HOG lawyer to formally end our involvement in the lawsuit.

The above is immediately in full force, but conditional on MOK council clearly and cleanly completing/approving the following 2 items by Sept 16, 2014.

Passes whatever MOK council motions that MOK council deems appropriate to ensure that CCW3 is permitted to continue completely normal (status quo) operations until September 30, 2015, unless WACL and MOK jointly agree otherwise in the future.Enter into real negotiations with HOG, and come to a satisfactory settlement of all outstanding issues. This motion does not define what satisfactory is; however, it is contemplated that it will encompass 1 or more of the following:

a. MOK buys 1 or more hangars. As will be shown by signed purchase and sale agreement(s).

b. MOK reaches agreement to sell hangar owners the land under their hangars. As will be shown by signed purchase and sale agreement(s).

c. Some other agreement(s) be jointly signed by HOG and MOK, stipulating that all of their issues are satisfactorily resolved.

If MOK council does not complete the above 2 items, by Sept 16, 2014 then this entire motion is automatically withdrawn.

 

Organizations: Waterville Airport Co, Annapolis Valley Flying Association, MOK council Waterville Municipal Airport Department of Justice Airport co-op ATC ATC committee

Geographic location: Waterville, Kings, Kentville Cambridge

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Recent comments

  • Fred Williams
    September 01, 2014 - 21:46

    The article seems to think that the public is concerned with whether or not there is a lawsuit against the MOK. I suspect it's of more concern to the Counsel. As a common person, I wonder what many of us must be wondering. How much will the MOK spend to move the airport so that Michelin can expand it's plant. The interests of the public are being set aside for the corporate agenda, once again. If the MOK go through with this they have betrayed the public trust and it calls into question their honesty.

  • Wholy F!
    September 01, 2014 - 18:38

    The rich boys win? I have not and do not support the MOK paying for an airport to support rich business owners in the valley, it makes me sick!

  • concerned citizen
    September 01, 2014 - 09:51

    Gee Mr. CAO Tom and W Brothers (and their lawyers) ,, It's too bad you didn't do this like normal human beings in the first place ? Seems to me that all you had to do back in March was to express you're sincere appreciation for all of the contributions that WA and skydiving have made to the community for over past 40 or 50 years but unfortunately because of extenuating circumstances Council has voted not to renew the lease on the current property once it has expired,, However in the meantime,, MOK commits to work closely with the Aviators and skydivers to find alternate and acceptable new locations before the current leases and contracts expire.. Sometimes a little respect for the Law,, compassion, kindness and understanding can go a long way ?.