Warden Diana Brothers says county council has not yet dealt with a request from a group that wants to develop an airpark on Saxon Street in Canning.
A proposal was circulated to Kings County councillors via email last month by the Kings Airpark Society (KAS) to develop an airpark as a replacement for the Waterville airport on privately-owned farmland. Two existing grass landing strips are currently on the site.
“We have not dealt with the proposal for Saxon Street; however, individual councillors did receive the proposal via email, asking us to keep it confidential, and I have honoured that,” Brothers said.
Members of the public caught wind of the plan over the past few days, however, and a group of about 40 concerned area residents have formed the North East Kings Citizens Group to oppose the proposal.
Brothers said the group has already been actively showing their opposition to council.
“I have received many emails and phone calls from a large group of people in the Saxon Street area,” Brothers said.
Members of the group also voiced concerns at the June 3 council meeting, where the terms of reference for the business case study for a municipal airport was discussed.
“We did accommodate them by letting them speak earlier (in the evening). The terms of reference were further down on the agenda and I asked council’s permission to move it up to allow them to speak,” Brothers said.
“All of the people speaking out were against the proposal.”
Their prime concern is the use of farmland for an airpark. While Brothers could not comment on whether the county would be open to the proposed airpark, she did say that council had strict guidelines it had to follow regarding the use of farmland.
“The municipality is bound by the provincial statement of interest regarding the protection of farmland, as well as the guidelines of Kings 2050 when it comes to any development of agricultural land,” she said.
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Council has not yet discussed the airpark proposal, she said, and has not yet determined when that would occur. She was also uncertain as to whether that discussion would be held publicly or not.
“I will have to talk to the (chief administrative officer) on how we will handle it in terms of transparency,” she said. “If it’s in camera, we’ll have to determine why it’s in camera; if not, whether it will be discussed in public.”
Under section 22 of the municipal government act, councils can only hold in camera sessions for specific reasons: the buying, selling or leasing of municipal property; personnel matters; labour relations; contract negotiations; litigation or potential litigation; receiving privileged legal advice; security issues; or establishing the minimum price to be accepted at a tax sale.
The warden added that she intends to discuss the issue with the county’s chief administrative officer in the near future to determine whether it would be on the agenda of the next committee of the whole meeting, likely “within the next week or so.” If the matter is not on the public portion of the agenda, Brothers said she would be able to confirm what in camera category the matter fell under and why.
Brothers added that she is keeping the concerns of the North East Kings Citizens Group in mind.
“I told them on the phone and in the emails that I’m keeping the comments they’re making to me on file and keeping their thoughts in mind,” she said.
In the meantime, county council is moving forward with plans for the business case study for the Waterville airport relocation and are awaiting the results of a needs assessment of 14 Wing Greenwood to determine whether the municipal airport could be moved to that site.