Councils accept airport agreement

GORDON-GORE BAY—Both Gore Bay and Gordon/Barrie Island councils have formalized an agreement for their participation in the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport Commission into the future. This despite the concerns raised by a Gordon/Barrie Island council that it will be paying a much larger share of the airport budget this year than it has in the past.

“We have finally got the airport agreement clarified,” stated Lee Hayden, reeve of Gordon/Barrie Island at a council meeting last week. “We have been operating for quite some time without an agreement,” he said, explaining that the agreement outlines that the participating members of the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport Commission include the Town of Gore Bay, municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island and the township of Burpee and Mills; are designated as class A members; and stipulates how the money is to be collected from the three parties.

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As for the money to be collected from the three municipal parties, “it is based on current weighted assessment, the same formula that the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) uses, which takes in consideration the amount of farmland each has and the ability of a municipality to collect taxes.”

The agreement also talks about anyone that might want to join the airport commission would need approval from the majority of the members and would need to formally sign the agreement, said Reeve Hayden. He pointed out the airport operating and capital budget will be set in January of each year. “We have tried to keep the agreement as simple as possible. And I would certainly agree that we should be signing the agreement.”

Councillor Bill Baker noted that, “we’ve also had a policy in place that we donate so much every year to the airport. It looks like we are looking at a big increase this year of between $30,000-40,000.”

Reeve Hayden said that the municipal increase won’t be as steep as Councillor Baker noted, but “it will be substantial.”

Reeve Hayden said the agreement states that if the airport commission ever dissolves, only the parties that are designated as the class A (in this case the participating municipalities) share in the assets of the commission. Assets shall include all real property, personal property, bank accounts and investments of any kind owned or held for the benefit of the commission to the date of its dissolution.
“And anyone who is a part of the agreement has to be involved at least five years before they can withdraw,” said Reeve Hayden. On the amount Gordon-Barrie Island will contribute to the airport this year, “it will be a big hit this year, but it is the fairest way to appropriate the funds needed to operate the airport.” He said of the number of users of the airport: “things are looking better all the time.”

“I would ask that the agreement be endorsed tonight,” said Reeve Hayden. “It’s basically what we’ve been doing in the past, but not with a formal agreement of how to do it.”

Council passed the motion unanimously (Councillor Perry Patterson was not in attendance) in favour of signing the agreement.

Reeve Hayden explained after the meeting that based on the draft numbers, the Town of Gore Bay’s share of the operating budget cost estimate would be around $7,200, and for capital, $5,300; for Gordon-Barrie Island the operating cost would be roughly $14,700 and capital at $10,900; and Burpee-Millls $7,700 in operating budget and $5,700 in capital. A capital budget (which is new in the agreement) of $30,000 has been set with the municipalities providing about $22,000. As well, Manitoulin Transport is an equal partner, they provide a very generous donation of about $8,000 to the capital budget.

In the past the airport commission did not carry a capital budget and that is where the municipal shares have increased, the reeve continued. In the case of Gordon-Barrie Island, the overall total costs for the municipality has increased from $11,700 to $25,600 (including the new capital cost share).

Reeve Hayden pointed out “air traffic volumes are up at the airport this year. Air traffic movements (landing and take-offs) were 3,277 in 2017. This is a 53 percent increase over the previous year. A lot of this has to do with the flight school.”

“I was very surprised to see the airport had that much takeoffs and landings, 3,200 in the past year,” said Gore Bay Councillor Ken Blodgett at a recent council meeting.

“We are hoping to encourage other municipalities to join the airport commission,” said Mayor Ron Lane, noting, “we receive annual contributions from Billings Township and Central Manitoulin.” He pointed out these municipalities or others who would like to have a bigger role in the airport would be welcomed to become members of the airport commission. Gore Bay council passed a motion in favour of signing the airport agreement.

Burpee-Mills council has not met, as of yet, to discuss their possible approval of the agreement.

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