PORT HOOD: During Inverness’ municipal council meeting last week, council members spent some time talking about whether or not to talk about the proposed airport in the Inverness County.
“I’d like to get a feeling on how we’ll be moving ahead,” said Deputy Warden Alfred Poirier, when floating the idea of adding a discussion period to the council’s agenda regarding the proposed airport. “This is our county, and I’d like to be involved more. I think people want us to respond to what’s being set out for government taxes.”
Council didn’t have a discussion period set aside for the topic of the airport, but Poirier’s point was that the agenda could be amended to allow for some free thought on the matter.
Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie noted that Ben Cowan-Dewar, the co-founder and CEO of Cabot Golf, is scheduled to visit council’s next committee-of-the-whole meeting.
She said waiting to discuss the matter with Cowan-Dewar present might be best, as Cabot Golf is said a major stakeholder in the airport’s development.
Poirier wanted to have some discussion at last Thursday’s meeting.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think it’s Ben Cowan-Dewar’s airport. It’s tax dollars we’re talking about, and the county should have a say,” he said.
Inverness County’s meeting took place one week after an announcement from Minister of Rural Economic Development Bernadette Jordan, who stated the federal government was backing away from the project.
Jordan said the Cape Breton Island Airport proposal failed to meet some of the standards set out for projects submitted under the investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream.
Councillor Laurie Cranton brought up that fact, noting that so far as he understood things, the airport proposal was scrapped. However, he said he’d love to get a debriefing on the proposal. He said Cowan-Dewar’s visit might provide that.
District 4 councillor John MacLennan said his understanding was that a 14-day notice had to be given before a new item was added to the agenda. As that’s the policy stated in the organizational review, he said council really shouldn’t mull over new agenda additions without such notice.
A vote was held on adding the airport issue to the agenda, and it was shot down 3-2. Warden MacQuarrie, MacLennan, and Cranton voted against having the discussion, and councillor John Dowling sided with Deputy Warden Poirier in wanting the discussion. Councillor Jim Mustard was absent.
Dowling asked a question regarding the upcoming committee-of-the-whole meeting. Cowan-Dewar is slated to attend, but Dowling wondered if representatives from other stakeholders – neighbouring counties, the provincial government, the federal government – would attend.
CAO Keith MacDonald added that phone calls were being made to invite those folks.