Kings County council met in-camera Aug. 13 to discuss a motion about the Waterville Municipal Airport land.
Before voting to go in-camera for further discussion, Warden Diana Brothers stepped down from the chair to move a motion regarding the land. The motion reads, "In order to position itself to take advantage of future opportunities with respect to the possible expansion of the Michelin plant, the Municipality of Kings is prepared to divest itself of the lands identified by Michelin as being necessary for the possible expansion of the production line at the Waterville plant as soon as is reasonably possible taking into consideration all relevant factors including the relocation of the municipal airport."
Coun. Kim MacQuarrie declared a conflict of interest and didn't participate in the in-camera discussion or votes.
Brothers told council there is more information to share in-camera. She said, following a conference call last week with Michelin, she felt the motion was necessary.
Brothers said the motion would demonstrate to Michelin that the municipality is serious about their request. She said the time has come for council to do something formal, which they haven't done to date.
Brothers said council has the responsibility to do what is in the best interest of constituents. The possible expansion could represent a $500 million investment and 230 new jobs.
Brothers said she'd "hate to be the one sitting in the chair" if the municipality were to loose out on the potential Michelin investment.
Brothers said the airport co-op has expressed support for the Michelin expansion. She said council remains committed to finding a new location for the municipal airport, whether it's at 14 Wing Greenwood or another option.
After council reconvened after the in-camera, Coun. Pauline Raven successfully moved an amendment to have the word "possible" removed from the motion as it related to the relocation of the municipal airport. The amended motion carried.
Coun. Jim Winsor said he hoped council could look at accommodating Michelin and the airport relocation "on two parallel tracks." Raven said she is confident both items could be handled simultaneously.
"I think the goodwill is there for everything to happen on a parallel track," Raven said.
Coun. Patricia Bishop said she supports Michelin but she wants the facts on what "divestment" actually is and the ramifications on taxpayers, positive or negative.
Coun. Wayne Atwater made a motion, too. In addition to the feasibility study being requested from 14 Wing Greenwood on whether or not the municipal airport could be relocated there, he moved to have the chief administrative officer identify at least two sites in the county that could host an airport with a 5,000 foot runway. The selection criteria adopted by consultant CBCL in their provincial Waterville Airport relocation study would be used. The motion carried.
Winsor and Bishop both expressed concern over reinventing the wheel. The provincial study was to identify three potential sites, but that information hasn't been publicly released.
"Let's get the information from the province," Winsor said.
Raven said perhaps the motion should ask the CAO to identify two locations east of Waterville, as the airport co-op requested. However, Brothers said she believes it would be better to keep options open at this point.