LETTER: Dysfunctional political process at Kings County council

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I read with significant interest the May 6 editorial with respect to the dysfunctional political process at Kings County surrounding the planned closure of the Waterville Airport. 

It would appear that the democratic process at Kings County council is fundamentally flawed.

Airport stakeholders were initially denied access to the taxpayer funded Waterville Municipal Airport Relocation Study until minutes prior to their opportunity to present their respective views to council.  The study was redacted to exclude material documentation relating to alternative relocation sites, which was a primary term of reference of the study. 

The majority of meaningful discussion regarding the planned closure of the airport and disposition of the airport lands to Michelin has been conducted behind closed doors and kept strictly confidential.

Councillors are reticent to discuss the closure with their constituents presumably in fear that they will suffer a public rebuke from the Warden for speaking out of school. Business interests such as Michelin are apparently being given priority access to information and the inside track on the county’s decision-making process in preference to Kings County taxpayers and other stakeholders.

The business case put forth by the county to justify the airport closure was the imminent expansion of Michelin’s Waterville plant and the associated job creation. Regretfully, Michelin’s president has publically denied any immediate expansion plans and characterizes the airport land’s acquisition as positioning for a future bid that may or may not happen.

The county is undertaking yet another taxpayer-funded business case study with respect to the relocation of the airport. Unfortunately, the results of this study will not be available prior to the closure of the airport in September and the loss of a significant number of jobs and millions in annual economic spin offs.

Kings County taxpayers deserve a much more fair and transparent democratic process from their elected officials. Once the airport is laid to rest, Kings County businesses and taxpayers will have cause for concern and be left to wonder which new agenda issue will be subject to council’s patently unfair and undemocratic tactics next.

Dan Bartie

New Minas

Organizations: Michelin, Kings County council, Waterville Airport

Geographic location: Kings

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