June 24, 2021 5:58am
Councilors for the Municipality of Georgian Bluffs took in a feasibility study on the Keppel International Airport in Wiarton on Wednesday.
Trent Gervais with Loomex Group relayed details of the examination of the viability of the airport, including recommendations about how to attract major aircraft carriers, how to transform the airport into a “prosperity hub”, and about the potential for tourism-based growth by choosing to engage with groups like Parks Canada.
Wednesday’s meeting was not a decision day for the future of the airport, but was an opportunity for council members to ask questions about viability from an industry professional.
Gervais took questions from members submitted prior to the meeting, many of which dealt with the state of the runway, the struggles of similarly-sized airports in the area, as well as how to discuss the airport’s potential with companies that can utilize it.
Gervais put a cost for the rehabilitation of “Runway 1” at approximately $4.69 million, which he says “is slightly less then previously estimated”, although he said no estimate was provided for the re-opening of the second runway at Keppel.
Gervais says NavCanada will also make a $1 million investment into the property shortly as it updates its current weather office. Should council eventually vote to close the airport, the future of NavCanada’s place at the airport would be put into question.
Councilor Cathy Coburn admitted her vote on how to proceed was contingent on staff’s ability to return with recommendations quickly, hoping for it “by the end of the summer”, also noting “Do we not have all the public opinion we need already?”, something Chief Administration Officer Al Meneses said would be delivered to council “expeditiously”.
Council’s vote to receive and direct staff to prepare recommendations for council passed 4-2, with councilors Carol Barfoot and Cathy Coburn being opposed.
Following the presentation, staff was directed to provide possible next steps regarding the airport’s future, a report that is expected quickly, according to CAO Al Meneses.
The airport is also expected to be discussed at Bruce County Council on Thursday, June 24th.
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