Airport Advocates want more, and more, and more taxpayers’ money (Craig Gammie Commentary 3-23)

August 6 agenda item 8.3 reads:

AIR02-2013 Request for Funding to Prepare a Business Plan and Strategic Plan for the Airport

The related Agenda item 11.1 reads:

CLK75-2013 Transport Canada Airport Report

In item 8.3 Dwight Burley, chair of the joint airport committee, is asking for money for a business plan and a strategic plan for the Wiarton-Keppel Airport.

The request should be denied. It is premature to do either a business plan and a strategic plan.

Instead council needs to make a decision on whether the Town of South Bruce Peninsula should even be involved in the airport.

And the alternatives considered must include shutting the airport down, and refusing to sink any more taxpayers’ money into it.

Agenda item 11.1 is on the agenda as a “matter of urgency”. It appears that Transport Canada did an inspection, found some problems related to runway condition and lighting, and called for a corrective action plan by August 30, 2013. Not clear in the report is that failure to come up with a corrective action plan acceptable to Transport Canada could result in loss of the current level of certification, and possibly some activity constraints.

The airport board and staff in both municipalities and some council members are trying to create a crisis here. They are trying to use their manufactured crisis to get both councils to make a hasty decision, without proper discussion or decision process, and without proper consultation with the residents of the Town whose wallets are being eyed so greedily.

The airport board and staff have tried to use the crisis to con council and the people into believing that there are only two alternatives, those being:

1) direct the airport board to prepare a corrective action plan including cost estimates and budget for repairs in a future year, and,

2), direct the airport board to prepare a corrective action plan and immediately move forward with repairs.

The problem with the report is that it misses at least two very important alternatives, being 3) do nothing and let the certification lapse, constraining activity as necessary, and 4) sell our share to private investors or to Georgian Bluffs.

Shutting the airport down is not even mentioned in the staff report. It is as if staff and some council have already made the decision, and to hell with the residents who will pay the costs.

Shutting the airport down and selling it must be considered as alternatives. And they must be seriously considered. Not having these on the list of alternatives is a scam and an insult to the people of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula.

(This has the appearance of another John Close airport scam. Remember back in 2012 our crafty mayor tried to give our share of the airport to Georgian Bluffs and get from Georgian Bluffs in return only some property that we already owned.)

Either of the staff options will cost the taxpayers a fortune. And will keep on soaking up $290,000 deficits out of the taxpayers’ pockets.

That’s $145,000 per municipality. That adds 2 per cent to our property tax hit.

And gives nothing to the taxpayers in return.

Council should make the airport decision very carefully, without unwarranted haste. And the decision should be made for the residents of the municipalities, not for the members of the airport board or for the small group of people who privately benefit from continued operation of the airport, and who privately benefit from the continued subsidization of the airport by the residents of both municipalities. The decision must be made using a proper, logical, open, and transparent decision process.

And council should tell the crisis manipulators that if the choice is between making the decision fast and making the decision right, it will be made right.

——————————————————————————

The pdf version of the full August 6 agenda package is at:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=55158

An Html version is at:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=55156

Craig

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