Region not involved in airport takeover talks

NIAGARA - Regional Niagara, it seems, is in no rush to get into the business of operating airports.

On Monday night, municipal councils in St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake passed resolutions in favour of handing over operation of the Niagara District Airport to the region.

The airport is currently operated by a commission, which manages the airport on behalf of St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Niagara Falls city council is scheduled to address the issue at its meeting Tuesday evening.

Asked about the resolutions from St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake councils during a public works committee meeting Tuesday morning, staff said there are currently no discussions involving a takeover of the airport. 

"At this point in time we're not engaged in any dialogue," said public works commissioner Ron Tripp.

"It's not currently in our work plan."

Harry Schlange, the region's chief administrative officer added: "We have not been plugged in at this point.

"As is the case when these resolutions come to regional council, then we'll be directed by regional council."

Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn said, in anticipation of the resolutions coming to the region in the near future, he believes a more proactive approach is needed in terms of delving into jurisdictional and legal questions that will inevitably arise.

"As we go down this road, I think this regional council needs to have answers to some of those questions...," Augustyn said.

"I think we're going to have to do some research and see how this will affect the region."

But other councillors seemed to suggest the anticipated request to take over responsibility for the airport is not that pressing an issue for them.

On a point of order, Niagara Falls Coun. Selina Volpatti wondered why the committee was even discussing the airport issue at this point.

"We don't have this proposal in front of us," said Volpatti. "I understand (St. Catharines) Coun. (Andy) Petrowski's questions and I understand Coun. Augustyn's interest, but could we not wait to have this discussion until the proposal is in front of us?"

Since the issue was raised under the other-business section of the meeting, public works chairman Bart Maves, allowed the discussion to continue.

Niagara Falls Coun. Bob Gale said he is satisfied to wait and see what comes forward.

"With regards to the airport, I received three phone calls, including one this morning, on it and I said I'll wait till the report comes. "I'm in no hurry for that."


Source: Bullet News Niagara by John Robbins / Managing Editor