The airport co-operative’s chairman said last week (July 9) he believes it’s a given the current 94-acre location will be closing to make way for possible expansion by Michelin.
“I’m the last guy to say Michelin shouldn’t expand,” Isenor said. However, there are concerns in the airport community and “everything is up in the air.”
The province awarded the contract to study the feasibility of relocating the airport to CBCL Limited. The study, to be completed by Oct. 31, will cost about $82,000.
Isenor said, although he has spoken with Warden Diana Brothers and other local officials, a meeting with the consultant July 13 would be the first time board representatives have spoken with anyone involved in the study process which “originated in Halifax.”
Isenor said he has a very good vibe from the consultants and the co-op board should soon have an idea of the study’s components.
He said there are other places in the county that could be made into an airport with room for associated services.
“A larger property could give us an opportunity to develop more around the airport,” Isenor said.
However, three levels of government would have to come up with the necessary funding to make it a feasible move.
“My only worry is who is paying for all this,” Isenor said. “To move or rebuild hangars will be expensive.”
He said a move wouldn’t hurt the occasional pilot very much, but for people who have invested in businesses at the airport a move could have serious impacts on livelihoods. New hangar projects are being put on hold and groups that use the airport, such as Air Cadets, are having difficulty planning ahead.
Brothers said the county has asked the consultant to explore all possible locations for the airport on land owned by the county or province. Relocation of the airport would be more feasible if a large land purchase isn’t necessary
The warden added the county values the input of the airport co-op board and other stakeholders.
“I’d love to have our cake and eat it too,” Brothers said. “We’ve been proactive in thinking outside the box.”
She said the steering committee wants the consultant to keep an open mind, identify three alternative sites and provide cost estimates for each potential site. The consultant will recommend a preferred site and provide a business case including economic impacts and benefits and relocation costs. The process will include exploring land usage and zoning in the surrounding areas and meeting with airport stakeholders, including 14 Wing Greenwood.
An announcement involving Premier Darrell Dexter scheduled at the Michelin plant July 5 was cancelled. Brothers said she is not at liberty to say anything about the event, other than that it was a simple cancellation and not related in any way to the relocation study.
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell said the province supports Kings County for looking at ways to diversify the economy and encourage retention and expansion of existing businesses.
Michelin currently employs about 3,500 people in Nova Scotia, including 1,200 at the Waterville location.