John Close’s Second Try To Give Away Our Half Of The Airport (Craig Gammie Commentary 3-19)

It was hard to tell from item 5.2 in the May 15, 2012 Council Agenda, titled “Public Meeting Notice-Restructuring, Georgian Bluffs and South Bruce Peninsula”, but the proposal was not really about “restructuring” at all.  The item was about John Close’s  proposal to give away our share of the Wiarton Keppel airport.

 The one page report included in the May 15, 2012 agenda package indicated only one clue:

 “The Town of South Bruce Peninsula has also consented to the transfer of their 50% ownership in the Wiarton-Keppel International Airport to the Township of Georgian Bluffs”.

 In fact the Town consented to no such thing.  It was John Close’s proposal to give away our half of the airport in return for ownership of the Wiarton Sewage lagoons and a cemetery.

 At the public meeting in shallow lake on Wednesday May 29th, 2012 Ana Vukovic pointed out to John Close and everyone else that we, meaning the people of TSBP, already own the lagoon lands and the cemetery that Georgian Bluffs is willing to give to TSBP in trade for half of an airport.

 John Close admitted that yes we do already own the lagoon lands and the cemetery.  He could not explain why he would have made the ridiculous proposal of giving up our half of the airport and getting in return something that we already own. Nor could anyone else explain.  In fact several TSBP councillors were very embarrassed at learning the truth.  Several were embarrassed at being scammed by John Close.

 With the spring 2012 exposure of John Close’s foolishness, the whole idea of giving our share of the airport away to Georgian Bluffs seemed to go silent.

 Now the foolishness is back.

 In the July 2, 2013 TSBP council agenda package is a report by Clerk Cathrae asking council to make a commitment regarding the airport.

 Cathrae’s report talks about an “apparent” Transport Canada June 20 inspection which “apparently” found deficiencies requiring $4 million in upgrades.   But there is no Transport Canada report available to check whether any of this is true.  It’s all speculation.

  But the big lie in Cathrae’s report is that the Township of Georgian Bluffs, which owns half of the airport, has asked TSBP to make a decision on the $4 million, or at least on our $2 million “half”.

 The Cathrae report says:

 “Georgian Bluffs feels that we must give some type of answer to Transport Canada before July 22, 2013 in order to secure the future of the Airport. It is worried that without a financial commitment and a plan to fix the deficiencies, the Airport may be closed. This leads to the question that Council must ask itself; do we wish to find the funding and what will be our role in the future of the Airport.”

 It may appear on the surface that Georgian Bluffs is putting pressure on TSBP to come up with a $2 million money commitment.  But the pressure is not coming from Georgian Bluffs council at all.  The pressure is coming from Dwight Burley, who is deputy mayor of Georgian Bluffs.  Dwight Burley is not Georgian Bluffs.

 Until TSBP gets the so-called Transport Canada report, this item should not even be on the agenda.  The only reason Cathrae put it on the agenda is because Burley wants to pressure TSBP council.

 Burley should not control council’s agenda. And Dwight Burley’s personal views should not be taken as those of Georgian Bluffs.  And Ms. Cathrae should not be putting Dwight Burley’s requests on council’s agenda.

 Ms. Cathrae presents three options, which contain much rubbish and misinformation.

 Ms. Cathrae’s option a) is:

 Make a Financial Commitment to the Airport: … The Town’s

share of costs could be $2 million.

 This option should not even be considered.  It is a bad idea to keep the airport open even if there were no $4 million costs facing.

 Ms. Cathrae’s option b) is:

    ….Council may wish to wait for the report from Transport Canada before they make any commitment. It should be noted that Georgian Bluffs will be awaiting a response from South Bruce Peninsula in this regard so that the Accountable Executive can report to Transport Canada prior to the issuing of the inspection report.  There is no written direction stating that a response is required prior to the issuance of the report; the Airport Manager feels that we would be acting proactively. If Council chooses to wait for the report, when the report is received, a decision will be required. There exists a liability with respect to owning an asset and Council should be aware of their responsibilities with regard to the liability which exists by being a joint owner of the Airport. Regardless of the findings on the report, we have been told that repairs will be required and a monetary commitment will be  required at some point.

 Obviously council must “wait for the report from Transport Canada before they make any commitment”.

 But the rest is all rubbish.  It is false that “Georgian Bluffs will be awaiting a response.” Cathrae even states that Georgian Bluff’s has not asked in writing for TSBP’s position.  There is no official request from Georgian Bluffs.  It is Dwight Burley pushing for a response and Dwight Burley is not Georgian Bluffs.

 It is also false that a decision will be required.  Council has no authority to commit 2 million dollars.  So the default decision at this point is not to commit 2 million dollars.  Council has in effect already made that decision.  Council is free to discuss other alternatives, but council should not be pressured by Burley or anyone else in Georgian Bluffs to make a change to its decision.

 Ms. Cathrae says “There exists a liability with respect to owning an asset ..

 But she does not say what that responsibility is.  This is irresponsible.  Council should note that owning half the asset is not an obligation to throw 2 million dollars into it.   Council can and should say “enough of this nonsense – pay for it yourself or shut it down”.

 The worst rubbish of all is Ms. Cathrae saying:

 “Regardless of the findings on the report, we have been told that repairs will be required and a monetary commitment will be required at some point.”

 That’s misleading and dishonest.

 Ms. Cathrae says “we have been told”, but she neglects to mention that the person who has “told us” is Dwight Burley, who has no authority and absolutely no say in what the residents of TSBP are required to do.  In addition, Mr. Burley is completely unreliable, and incompetent, and should be ignored.

 Why would Ms. Cathrae put “we have been told” in her report as if it was relevant when it is not?

 The alternative to keeping the airport open is obviously to close the airport. So contrary to Ms. Cathrea, doing repairs may be an alternative that some may still find worth considering, but it is not a requirement.  And contrary to Ms. Cathrae, a monetary commitment may be an alternative some may still find worth considering, but again it is not a requirement.

 Ms. Cathrae’s option c) is:

Make a Decision on Airport Ownership: Ultimately, Council will need to decide if they wish to remain as owners of the Airport and if Council does wish to remain owners, there will need to be some decision on the future management and capital commitment. If Council chooses not to remain part owners of the Airport, forward movement to transfer the ownership would be in order.

 The “forward movement to transfer the ownership would be in order” of Option C is just another attempt by John Close to give our half of the airport to Georgian Bluffs.  He’s using Ms. Cathrae as his talking puppet, but it’s the same strategy that was exposed and shot down by Ana Vukovic and others in May of 2012.  His stupid scam was fully exposed.  Why is it coming up again?

 Council should not be considering just “transferring the ownership”.

 Instead of transferring the ownership (giving our half away) we may wish to purchase Georgian Bluff’s half, or both sell to a third party, or we may wish to sell (not give away) our half to Georgian Bluffs, or maybe both may want to hang on to the (closed) airport for a while.

 Or if Georgian Bluffs wants to pay all the costs we may want to keep our share.

 But there is no reason to give our share away.

 The airport is a loser.  It sucks up money from the taxpayers.   It provides absolutely no benefit to the town (meaning the corporation).  Council needs to end the drain on the treasury.

 Council should say to Georgian Bluffs:

 1) no more capital; no 2 million

2) we will no longer finance deficits; you finance the deficit or shut it down

3) you can buy our share for $x million (x is at least)

4) or we can discuss sitting on it as joint owners

5) or we can discuss selling it

Craig

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