Inverness County considers airport funding

Pictured is the Port Hawkesbury Airport, which can be found just outside Port Hastings on Trans-Canada Highway 105.

PORT HOOD: John Dowling, the Inverness County councillor looking after district 6, has some questions he’d like answered about his municipal group’s funding for the Port Hawkesbury Airport.

Dowling is also a member of the Port Hawkesbury Airport Committee, and he attended a recent meeting of that group where he learned Inverness County had not contributed any money for the 2015-16 operating year.

In previous years, Inverness contributed $35,000 annually to the local airport.

“There is an agreement that Inverness County will fund the Port Hawkesbury Airport if there’s a deficit,” said Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie.

“I believe that was the agreement with all the partnering municipal units. Inverness County was putting forward $35,000 every year for the Port Hawkesbury Airport because it was in a deficit position.

“It’s pretty expensive to run an airport, but it’s now successful, and a lot of that has to do with Cabot [Links and Cliffs] golfers and people coming in. They’re doing much better, even though they do have work to do to keep the airport up.”

Although the airport is no longer running a deficit, MacQuarrie said she and council are open to discussing the county’s contribution at later meetings.

John Dowling

Dowling brought up the matter at last week’s regular council meeting. He said he’d like to find out exactly when that motion was passed regarding funding the airport only if there’s a deficit. He’d also like the matter reviewed at the next council meeting.

“I went back a couple years to see if I could find a motion where we wouldn’t cover it, and I couldn’t find it,” he said. “I’ve asked our CAO to provide me with that information.”

Dowling said the airport is doing better financially, but the facility is not yet at the point where a contribution from Inverness wouldn’t be extremely useful.

“We’re going to try to get some answers in the next few weeks,” Dowling said. “A month’s already gone by, and I’d like to have this resolved.

“There’s still so much to do with the airport that to stop funding it right now is not the right time to cut the string.”