Airport can't run on peanuts: Morocco

The Region needs to take over the operation of Niagara District Airport, airport committee member and Niagara Falls councillor Joyce Morocco says.The Region needs to take over the operation of Niagara District Airport, airport committee member and Niagara Falls councillor Joyce Morocco says.

Region needs to step up, Falls councillor says

Niagara This Week - Niagara Falls

By Richard Hutton

NIAGARA FALLS — The “time is now” for the Region to take over operation of Niagara District Airport, councillor Joyce Morocco says.

“We can't continue to run on peanuts,” Morocco said. “If we can’t do this we may have to close the airport.”

Morocco is Niagara Falls city council’s representative on the airport commission, which includes representatives from the three municipalities currently responsible for the airport. The other municipalities are St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“It’s just not viable under the three municipalities,” she said. “We need to take it to the next level and have the support of the whole Niagara Region.

On June 23, council backed a motion from St. Catharines city council calling on the Region to take over the airport.

With the Region behind it, other levels of government could be approached to help fund projects to improve the Niagara-on-the-Lake facility.

“We’re working on increasing the number of hangers and installing solar panels as a means to increase revenue,” Morocco said.

A feasibility study was conducted in 2013 to evaluate the potential of flight service to the airport based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, targeting flight use from airports within an 800-kiolometre radius. It looked at passenger flight service to destinations like Boston, Chicago, New York City, Ottawa and Montreal.

“There’s a report that said Toronto Pearson, by 2030, will be maxed out," Morocco said. “We need to step up.”

Niagara Falls was the last of the three municipalities to approve the motion. But while all three municipalities are on board, the transfer of operation of the airport is by no means a done deal.

Any change would have to be approved by the regional politicians and should that happen, staff from the municipalities will be asked to work together to bring the appropriate agreements to effect the change.

When St. Catharines city council approved the motion earlier, Coun. Mike Britton — The Garden City’s representative on the commission — described a regional takeover as a win-win-win situation.

“This is a great opportunity for our community. There is so much potential our airport has,” said Britton, noting there is the potential to bring in significant economic development with a plan to support international flights at the airport, and the current structure doesn’t allow for proper infrastructure renewal.

It’s something Morocco agreed with.

“The time is now,” she said. “We all want to make sure we grow our region."

 

Source: Niagara This Week