Annapolis Valley Flying Association

General Aviation for the Annapolis Valley – COPA Flight 147

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On 26th July the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the King County Council, Mr. MacEwan, posted a disertata and proposals (22 pages) called ‘Airport Relocation Stategy’ for the council to consider. You can read it at – Click Here for direct link

On the 29th of July In a four hour session, discussion among the Municipality of Kings councillors, several pointed out defects in the proposal, including abandonment of established processes and attempts to stiffle democratic rights. The proposal was presented only two days before the session and the public has not been included in the discussions.  All the arguments fell on deaf ears with respect to six of the councillors who had already made up their minds. The porposal was passed in a six for and five against vote. 

Only after the vote was the public at the meeting allowed offer their input to the proposal. The majority of which was condemnation of the process and the action taken that night and in previous council meetings about the airport. 

Basically, the ‘Strategy’ says

  • The Council reaffirms that Waterville Airport is closing
  • Disengages the MOK for any new airport facility
  • MOK only supports negotiate to relocate the airport to 14 Wing Greenwood
  • Delay closing of Waterville Airport to 2015 only if aviators take over the relocation. to Greenwood
  • The Airport Relocation Committeee is dissolved.

The CAO in his presentation before the discussion and vote, admitted that there is a flaw in the ‘Strategy’ in that the negotiation with CFB Greenwood may not be able to be concluded.  In that case, he allowed that ‘he’ would reconsider the possiblity of a different solution to the relocation of the airport.

It should be noted that on the original vote to close the Waterville airport, 10 of the 11 councillors voted for closure. In this vote only six of the 11 voted for the motion that reaffirmed closure. 

Save Your Airport BillboardSoon you will see these signs around Kings County to urge residents to contact their councilors to urge then to preserve avaiation in the region by not closing the Waterville airport. We have ordered 50 signs that will be available soon.

Below is a copy of the informational pamphlet that will be used to inform the public of the closure of the airport. Click on the image to download a pdf version that can be printed.

Stop Closure of Airport pamphlet

 This was presented at the last meeting but there was no time to discuss it. Comments for changes or corrects are welcomed.  If you find it useful and wish to post it, print it out. If there is enough interest, we can have a bunch printed commercially and distributed.   Click on the image to get the pdf full size image. (Larry)

On the Main AVFA page you  will see a small count down in the upper right corner. This timer tells you how many days until October 1, 2015 when the Waterville Airport is scheduled to closed by the council of Municipality of Kings (MOK).  

Rush to Get Rid of an Airport

Despite the pleas of the aviation community here and across the country to keep the airport open, the council has refused twice to even consider the simple idea to delay the closure. (twice, in council, a motion was refused to be even considered when put forth by one of the councilors) What is their rush?  Michelin has no plans currently to expand their Waterville plant.  It was only after CFB Greenwood reported that it IF the Waterville airport were to be granted permission to relocate there, it could not happen by 2014 and maybe not by 2015, that council considered delaying the closing. 

Municipal Council’s attack on the Airport

One would think that the municipal council would be working to support and maintain a part of the municipal infrastructure of its county.  Instead, they are working to destroy a multi-million dollar asset and leave the community with no civil aviation facility. There are no substitute airport facilities available nor are there plans to replace what will disappear after October 1, 2015.

The value of the airport to the community and to aviation in this region has been documented in many places.  The council had, a study panel to consider whether a new airport would be commercially viable, but have eliminated that and washed its hands of providing a replacement for the Waterville Airport. There are no funds available locally, from the province or from the federal government to build a replacement airport. The council thinks that CFB Greenwood will provide the space for a replacement but there is no assurance of that.

What is the viability of betting on the expansion of the Michelin plant?

There is only a chance that Michelin will consider expanding its Waterville plant  in competition with other newer, larger and more modern plants in North America. It also depends on the market for Michelin tires and that is not at all certain. Although the council and province had demanded that a new airport be put under economic scrutiny they never looked closely at their own rush to sell the airport property with disregard for the lost of a valuable existing airport.

If the MOK council has firm plans and solid time table for a Michelin expansion, it has kept the secret very well. The question is: why not let the public know. If there are no realistic expansion plans then they should admit it to us and to themselves. They are our representatives, not our rulers.

(modified 6 Nov 2014)

Larry Bogan, Website Manager

One of the proposals for a place to move the Waterville Airport is to a “Kings Airpark” on Saxon Street. This was put forth at a meeting of the Airport Taskforce on 18 May and accepted by 26 members of the AVFA.

The Goals, Plans, Proposal and suggest solutions to problems was put forth in a document: Kings Airpark Proposal Outline (pdf document). There is already a private air strip at the site of the proposal. The release of the proposal was reported in the Advertiser/Register (Airpark Plan Floated…..) . This has been presented to but has not been discussed by the MOK (Municipality of Kings) Council (Airpark …. MOK Warden)

There was a immediate opposition to this proposal from a group of residences living in the area of the proposed airport location.They have organized into a Northeast Kings Citizens Group. This group presented statements in opposition to the development on farmland at the meeting of the Kings County Council on 3rd of June. (Saxon Street Resident … )  The group has a Facebook page called North East Kings Citizens Group

At a meeting of the Airport Taskforce groups on the 7th of June, it was recognized that it is not likely that a new Airport to replace the Waterville Airport will ever be build in Kings County on agricultural land.  (Note: an airpark is not an airport but an aerodrome with more restrictive uses.) As we have been stating, the best decision is to keep the Waterville Airport where it is and not close it until there is a replacement airport available that can accommodate all of the businesses and facilities there.  Since there is no plans to expand the Michelin tire plant, there is every reason that the airport should stay where it is.

Waterville Aiport Open House Poster

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

Marathon council meeting sees airport-friendly councillors scolded for defending constituents
May 7, 2014

WATERVILLE – Constituents of Kings County faced adversity once again as their councillors were muzzled by the Warden for speaking out in defense of the Kings County Municipal Airport.

“That is not on this evening’s agenda,” cried Warden Diana Brothers as Councillors Pauline Raven and Patricia Bishop attempted to discuss e-mails from airport supporters. “They (the e-mails) are irrelevant and not a topic for discussion at this meeting.”

Supporters of the Kings County Municipal Airport sat in the Council Chambers for much of the evening, but as the topic of the airport was pushed further and further down the agenda, several were unable to stay. “I stayed from 6pm to 10:30pm, at which time the council finally brought up the topic of the airport,” states Andrew Robertson, member of the Annapolis Valley Flying Association.

Robertson also notes that other supporters of the airport were “booed” as they attempted to speak for the need of an airport in Kings County. “(Another member) was booed because he was not only a developer but also a pilot. The intentions of other defenders of the airport were also questioned because they held a pilot’s license.”

After discussion of the topic took place, public and the media were ushered out of the Council Chambers so that more discussion on this topic could take place. It is wondered what happened after those with a vested interest were ejected. Robertson questions, “Was this more Top Secret planning in the works?”

Council had voted in an in-camera session to close the airport back in March 2014. The Annapolis Valley Flying Association has started the Save the Airport Campaign and the Hanger Owner’s Group has taken legal action against the council.

The future of the airport at this point: non-existent if the Warden has anything to do with it.

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

Employees at Kings County Municipal Airport ask why council members want to take away their jobs.
May 7, 2014

WATERVILLE, NS – When it comes to business as usual around the Kings County Municipal Airport, that expression is now a thing of the past. With the uncertainty of the future not only of existing airport but a future airport, too, businesses like Rouleau Aviation are struggling to stay positive.

“It is difficult to drum up future business if there’s no guarantee of a future,” states Peter Rouleau, owner and operator of Rouleau Aviation based out of the Waterville Airport. “My business, my livelihood… it’s all gone once the airport is gone.”

And Rouleau is not the only one. There are several businesses with employees based out at the airport including a flight school, a skydiving school, and aircraft maintenance.

Municipality of Kings council members voted in March to close the 3,500ft runway and adjacent airport facilities effective September 30, 2014 to make way for Michelin in the event that they wished to expand. Having recently lain off a number of workers at their Granton plant, many people are left to question why the airport must be closed so quickly if Michelin is removing jobs from Nova Scotia.

Walter Isenor, president of the Annapolis Valley Flying Association says, “Many of the users of the Waterville airport want to know why we can’t just stay on the land until Michelin publicly announces and provides a timeline for any expansion. We are very willing to work together with Michelin so that the airport and the tire plant can work together. As an organization, however, we do not understand why we would be forced to move if there’s no expansion in the works.”

With the Kings County Municipal Airport being the second busiest airport in the province as per takeoffs and landings, and being amongst the busiest 12% of uncontrolled airports in Canada, many are left to question why their jobs that currently exist are not as important as those that may never exist.

The Annapolis Valley Flying Association can be found at:
———————————————————- 30 ————————————————————For more information, contact:
Nancy Sweeney, Public Relations – Annapolis Valley Flying Association
(902) 266-9081

The Kings County Municipal Airport or Waterville Airport (CCW3) is situated approximately 16 km west of Kentville. It has a 3,500 ft x 75 ft asphalt runway, paved taxiway, a paved apron with tie downs and above ground fuel tanks. The airport covers approximately 94 acres and is operated year-round seven-days-a-week (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

The airport has a long history, starting as an auxiliary landing strip for a World War II training centre at Greenwood, N.S. After the war it reverted to farm fields for short while before being revitalized as a private airport. The air-strip changed ownership several times before it was purchased by the Municipality of Kings (MOK) in about 1976 with a $50,000 grant from the Provincial Government. This allowed the MOK to apply for Federal funds to improve the airport. By 2013 it was home to an aviation training centre, two aviation shops, a sky-diving school and centre, and over 30 aircraft. Many aviators had invested significant money in building hangers and shops to make the airport an active aviation centre.

The Airport is a public facility that contributes to our community in many ways. It not only serves the county of Kings but people in Wolfville, Berwick, Kentville, and the whole region. It provides air transportation, tourism, training in aviation, repair services and a centre for any citizen who wants to enjoy aviation. Pilots from all over the Maritimes use the airport and it is a part of a network of facilities in our region. It is operated by a volunteer cooperative (Waterville Airport Cooperative Ltd or WACL) with a subsidy (about $50,000) from the Municipality. For the cost of what an average employee earns per year it generates economic activity of more than a million dollars a year. Each summer a dozen Canadian Air Cadets earn their pilot’s licences here. Many Valley pilots who work in the industry as bush pilots, airline pilots, and fly as recreational pilots got their training at Waterville Airport.

Time Line of the Maneuvering to Remove the Airport

  • In 2012 the Michelin Tire company invested $346 Million in its North American plants but none in any of the three in Nova Scotia. Michelin Tire plants must compete against each other to get money for expansion. The provincial government (New Democratics) wanted jobs for Nova Scotia and so they asked Michelin Canada what would be required to expand operations. Company officials indicated that due to the layout of the plant and location of equipment, the only possible area to expand was northward into airport lands. Michelin requested a province study on relocating the Waterville Airport.
  • In May 2012, the province paid $100,000 for a study to look at moving the Waterville airport. There was no inquiry as to whether the airport should be moved but the users of the airport were asked what a new airport would be like.
  • Due to the uncertainty of its future, progress at the Waterville airport stopped. Three hangers to be built and a business that was planned for the airport were canceled as a result of this.
  • By January 2013, the engineering and airport cost study was finished and submitted to the province but it was kept secret until May 2013. The study estimated a $12 Million cost to build a new airport and mentioned several possible sites (not revealed in the public report). An alternative move to Canadian Force Base (CFB) Greenwood, 20 km to the west, would cost less but still be about $7 Million. This latter option relies on the base command allowing civilian aviation on the base which it currently does not do.
  • Meanwhile in April 2013, Michelin invested $750 Million building a new modular and expandable plant in South Carolina.
  • The Municipality of Kings has continued to work towards making the airport land available to Michelin and in June 2013, the Kings County Council formally agreed to make the airport land available to Michelin if it needs it. At the same time Michelin stated that it had no plans to expand the Waterville plant. At that time the MOK promised to work to provide a new airport for the county.
  • In the Fall of 2013, MOK inquired into the possibility of a civilian airport at CFB Greenwood. The Waterville Airport Cooperative agreed to the airport move, preferably not to Greenwood but placed in the county closer to Halifax. The NDP government was defeated in a provincial election and replaced with a Liberal one.
  • February 2014, new Liberal provincial government (via the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism) urged the MOK to quickly make the airport property easily available to Michelin. There was no reason given for this urgency and Michelin had not indicated any possibility of expanding the Waterville plant.
  • Finally on 10th of March 2014, with a notice of only a few hours and a Council session closed to the public, the council of MOK voted 10 to 1 to close the Waterville airport after 30 Sept 2014. There still is no commitment by Michelin for expansion here. The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and Warden ordered the members of council to no longer talk about the airport.
  • (Council approved a motion to “divest itself of the lands identified by Michelin as being necessary for the possible expansion of the production line at the Waterville Plant as soon as is reasonably possible taking into consideration all relevant factors including the relocation of the Municipal Airport.” – This is a result of ERDT Minister Michel Samson recommended that the province and MOK develop a purchase and sale agreement that would define the terms and conditions for a future transaction, which would satisfy Michelin’s concerns and make the Waterville plant a competitive option for expansion.)
  • In response to the unreasonable and sudden complete elimination of possibilities for aviation in the region, the Annapolis Valley Flying Association invited interested parties to join them in a task force to educate the Council and public to the value of having the airport in Waterville and work to extend the life of the CCW3 at its current site.
  • The owner of the fight training centre at the airport said that he can not survive a delay for new facilities. Hanger owners will be required remove the buildings at their own cost. The sky-diving activities are also planning to leave the Valley and are preparing a small airport and jump zone in Hants County. There will be little aviation left to move to another airport. It is very unlikely, that a new $12 million airport can sustain itself after the existing aviation businesses have been driven away or disappeared.
  • In April 2014, MOK established a Waterville Airport Relocation Project Steering Committee, an advisory body to the Council that will assist with addressing issues related to the airport relocation. This is a result of a letter from ERDT informing the MOK that the province would not commit to any funding without the benefit of a detailed assessment, including a business case study. However, in that same letter the ERDT stated that even after the study the province would not contribute funds to new airport in any significant amount. The MOK believes that money is available from the Infrastructure Canada for a new airport. The study is expected to cost $75,000 shared between the Province and Municipality. The terms of reference for the study were written without any input from the aviation community.

Consequence of Waterville Airport Closure

The proposal of MOK (at the urging of the provincial ERDT) is to quickIy transfer ownership of the west end of the airport land to Michelin so they can say they have the land in hand when apply for expansion money. This will probably mean tearing up the airport asphalt runways and cleaning up the site. This will not be inexpensive and it is not clear who will pay for this. A figure of $1.35 Million has been quoted as the amount the MOK will receive for the land (It is not clear who is paying for this, the province or Michelin). That monies had been promised by the MOK to go toward the new airport but MOK has already mentioned that some of the money will be used for studies and possibly clean-up costs.

Once the airport is closed, aircraft can not take off and land so they will have to fly to another airport leaving the hangers empty. If Michelin at Waterville never gets any expansion money, the airport will be derelict land destined to become a business park under plans put forth by the MOK.

In April 2014, officials from CFB Greenwood met with pilots, businesses and hanger owners to gather the necessary information for the needs assessment related to using Greenwood military airport for general aviation. The command at CFB Greenwood is willing to consider a partnership with the local aviation community. The needs assessment will be completed soon but it is clear that CFB Greenwood has no funds to provide infrastructure for this partnership. There will also be restrictions related to security at the base along with the permissions necessary from DND in Ottawa. There is also a problem of available land for building any civilian hangers or other structures. The Greenwood Flight Centre currently at Waterville Airport used to operate out of CFB Greenwood but was ejected many years ago due to a policy change and the flight school and club at CFB Shearwater were also kicked out. This sort of thing can happen again .

Certain members of the MOK Council believe that the Waterville airport is expendable and are willing to give it away on a chance of some economic benefit will come from it. They quote the recent study by the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy: “a greater willingness to take on the risks associated with economic change and progress “ and as a result they say they “must do whatever is necessary to allow for business expansion while at the same time positioning itself to take maximum advantage of the opportunities associated with the growth of one of the leading export organizations in the Province. “

The MOK or Province have never done any study to determine if there is any real possibility that the Waterville Michelin plant really has to build to the north side of their plant (they always quote the requirements stated by Michelin spokespersons) nor have they analyzed the tire industry economics to know if there is any good chance of Michelin International investing the $500 million always quoted as the size of the investment (all this is taken of hope and belief). Michelin Waterville is already expanding over the next few years with an investment of $73 million to create about 50 jobs and will involve equipment improvements, including the installation of new technologies in all aspects of the manufacturing process. The project will involve adding 32,280 square feet to the factory but will not need airport land.

There has recently (May 2014) been a meeting (Round Table) between representatives of provincial, municipal, Michelin, and stakeholders of the Waterville Airport to exchange information. The exchange provided a clearer picture of the positions of all parties involved but changed none of the realities of situation.