MLA Keith Irving pulls together groups with interest to discuss future plans for airport land

May 8, 2014

WATERVILLE – A week has passed since a round-table discussion occurred between the interested parties involved in the closure of the Kings County Municipal Airport, and nothing has become any more certain than it had been leading up to the meeting.

The aviation community was finally able to meet with Michelin to ask a number of questions about their future plans for the development of the lands adjacent to their Waterville plant. Albeit behind closed doors, and under the close and watchful eye of representatives from the Province of Nova Scotia, and the Municipality of Kings, Mr. Grant Ferguson, President of Michelin North America (Canada) indicated to representatives that despite their being no impending expansion plans for the Waterville plant, in order for any future expansion to take place, the land will need to be cleared and readily available. He also indicated that in order for the Michelin plant to even bid on an expansion, it is necessary for them to own the land on which they are planning to expand.

When pressed to consider the option of co-habitation, allowing for the airport to exist on lands purchased by Michelin until expansion of the plant is, if ever, announced, Ferguson indicated that this will not be considered as any form of option.

Mr. Gordon Squires, member of the Annapolis Valley Flying Association who was almost blocked from the meeting due to his involvement with the Hangar Owners’ Group, attempted to sway the Province into purchasing the land and brokering the deal directly with Michelin – alternatively, it was suggested that the Province purchase and pave a one (1) kilometre strip in good faith in order to reclaim funds post-sale of the airport for $1.8 million. The Province has not committed to any such deal.

Brian Chappell, East Region Representative to the Canadian Operators and Pilots Association (COPA), reiterated the financial benefits of airports such as the one in Kings County. He cites them as “economic generators, and will be moreso as the economy improves.” Chappell, a pilot himself, represents the 500 COPA-registered of pilots in the Maritimes on the national stage, and has seen his share of airport closures. “The negative impacts of closing the airport far outweigh the positives that come along with promises and potential creation that may never come.”

Warden Diana Brothers indicated that at the meeting of the Committee of the Whole (COTW) on May 20th, a surprise would be coming for all involved parties. With the Warden being the key proponent of those looking to close the airport, the aviation community is not “holding its breath” for positive news.

A follow-up meeting of members of the roundtable will take place in July 2014.

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For more information, contact: Nancy Sweeney, Public Relations – Annapolis Valley Flying Association
(902) 266-9081