After a detailed process to determine the future vision for the Yarmouth Airport, a recommendation was put forward to step back from decision-making and operations, but continue funding support
Friday, March 1, 2019 - Yarmouth, N.S. - At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Friday, a motion was passed to recommend to Council that the Town of Yarmouth exercise its option to withdraw from the International Airport Corporation (YIAC) effective March 31, 2019. If approved by Council, the next step will see a negotiation of the withdrawal according to the terms and conditions of the Intermunicipal partnership, and have the Town consider providing operational funding upon conclusion of a successful negotiation.
The discussion that led to the motion to consider withdrawal came about after a long and exhaustive process to evaluate the future of the airport. With the YIAC agreement expiring March 31st, the councils of the three municipal partners who own the airport met several times in recent months with a consultant to set the future vision for the airport and the basis for future agreements. After much discussion and consideration, a delegation of Council and staff advised its partners that it would be recommending to Council to withdraw from the YIAC as of March 31, 2019.
The foundation for this recommendation is based on a number of factors, primarily focused on simplification of decision-making for the airport and focusing energies and resources of the Town on other key projects and infrastructure. All three partners agreed that the current governance framework has proven inefficient with multiple independent owners. With the Town removing itself from the partnership, governance and decision-making going forward will be simplified.
"The airport is an important regional asset, but it's been hindered by the complexity of its funding and governance structures", said Mayor Pam Mood. "The difference going forward if we decide to take this path is simply that the Town will not be at the decision-making table. The airport remains open, the Town continues to provide financial support and we can focus our resources on other important regional work."
One important file is the $9 million infrastructure project at the Ferry Terminal which begins this spring. By removing itself as an owner and trusting the remaining partners to operate and determine the airport's future, it allows the Town to shift full attention to the Ferry Terminal project. As the sole owner and operator of the Terminal, the Town is responsible for its redevelopment and operation heading into a crucial era of tourism development for the entire region.
"The Town is about to embark on the largest infrastructure project we've undertaken in more than 15 years and it requires our full attention over the next three years", added Mayor Mood. "As Municipal partners, we don't all have to do everything, all the time. If we're working together as a region, we can allow each other to take the lead on certain endeavours and be more efficient in getting things done. We have trust and confidence in our partners that they have the same regional interests in mind, and will be good stewards of the airport on behalf of all of Yarmouth County, just as we will be good stewards of the ferry terminal."
Today's motion will be brought to the March 14th Council meeting for consideration.
Photo courtesy Dave Warner