By Barb McKay
The municipality will have to decide how much it wants to spend to fix up the Kincardine airport and if it wants to take on the work now or later.
Kincardine council received a bit of sticker shock at its meeting last Wednesday, when an aviation expert from Genivar delivered the final draft report for the airport strategic plan. The plan includes recommendations for revitalizing the airport, increasing revenues and protecting the airport lands for future growth and development.
James Lindsey told council that while the condition of the airport facilities and runways are not dire, but improvements are recommended to the tune of $14,745,400.
“The condition of the existing facilities is in moderate to poor condition and that’s because they are near the end of their lifespan, particularly runway 13-31,” Lindsey said.
At the top of the list of recommended improvements is the extension of the main runway, 13-31. The runway has been discussed and debated over the past couple of years and repaving of the existing runway is on the books for 2014. It is expected to cost roughly $1 million to refurbish the 4,000-foot main runway and it would cost another $3 million to extend it to 5,000 feet.
Mayor Larry Kraemer said the municipality will need to decide if it makes sense to repave the existing runway or extend it. Lindsey said it may make more sense to extend the runway to 4,500 feet, which would be easier and less costly, and then add 500 feet on in the future. The additional 500 feet would still allow larger aircraft to use the airport.
Lindsey said that Kincardine’s future will not be in commercial flights, rather catering to corporations with private planes and recreational pilots, and certification will not be needed.
“The key to an airport like this isn’t the flying colours,” he said. “It’s the owner operators, the mom and pop shops with single crafts. Kincardine has a great employment base, it’s a great place to live and it has a great airport. People know when they go out for a day they can get home at night.”
The airport’s second runway 05-23 is also in need of repairs and could be extended. Councillor Ken Craig asked Lindsey if the municipality rebuilds a runway should they focus on one running east and west or one running north and south. Lindsey said the main runway, which runs east and west, should be the priority, partially because it is used by Bruce Power.
Other recommendations include replacing edge lighting systems along the runways and addressing other electrical issues, eliminating the airport house and developing a long-term lot layout plan and land acquisition strategy for the airport and acquiring lands north of the airport terminal building and main runway to protect for future development. The plan also suggests that concerns be addressed around the Armow Wind Project to ensure that future development of the airport lands is possible.
“There isn’t a lot of grey area in aviation,” Lindsey said. “At some point you have to draw a line in the sand. You have to make sure the asset is protected.”
Council directed staff to work with the airport strategic plan committee to come up with a recommendation of how the municipality should proceed.