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.”