COLUMN: Funding formula for regional airport unsustainable

The 2015 Cornwall Regional Airport budget. The document calls for $123,800 from Cornwall and $10,000 from South Glengarry to operate the air strip in Summerstown. (Cornwall Newswatch/File)

SOUTH DUNDAS — The funding formula for the Cornwall Regional Airport needs to be reviewed and renegotiated sooner, rather than later. The agreement as it stands now is past the unsustainable point, with an 85/15 split between Cornwall and South Glengarry. That 85/15 split is more like 92/8 because the portion of funding from South Glengarry is capped at a paltry $10,000.

A great deal for South Glengarry taxpayers, not so much for Cornwall’s. In order to really deal with the issue of funding, you have to look at the broader picture; Is there a need for a regional airport at all? The proponents of a “regional” airport will tell you that Cornwall needs this to be competitive, to attract business owners and businesses.

Huh?

With Ottawa and Montreal’s international airports just over an hour away, are business owners who can afford to fly-in, going to shun Cornwall because it does not have an airport 15 minutes away from the city boundary in another municipality? No they are not. Businesses will move or start in Cornwall and the area because of the location, the demographics, available workforce and land, not because of an airport they can fly their personal plane out of. Besides, who is coming to Cornwall or SD&G right now looking to invest? Certainly not big business.

The need for a regional airport would make sense if Cornwall was located further away from the second and fourth largest cities in the country. If there was a call for regional passenger air service, or had become a logistics hub for courier companies. None of that is Cornwall.

Other municipalities, South Dundas included, pay for their own airports themselves. Perhaps South Glengarry should start paying more of their own way. Cornwall doesn’t have the space for their own airport, so perhaps they can contribute towards the one in South Glengarry, but not at the existing funding rate. It should, at the minimum, be pegged at 50/50 with no cap. Fair is fair, and it is long overdue that South Glengarry pay its fair share.

What happened to not funding groups?

Spurring the discussion from the airport, funds were taken from the airport budget contribution during Cornwall City Council’s budget deliberations and given to fund the arts group, Your Arts Council (YAC). This was after council agreed not to give them funding and cut funding to outside groups. Your either are in, or your not. Councillor Bernadette Clement called it right when she said this was a budgetary “shell game”. In typical Cornwall fashion, council makes a stand, then reverses itself midstream when people may not like tough decisions.

That doesn’t bode well for the remaining three and a half years of term left for this council. The prescient has been set, there is no precedent. They will choose one course of action, then change and do something else. The tough decisions, well someone else can deal with those, and take the hit for them.

Earth Hour Redux

Who honestly participates in Earth Hour anymore? Have people finally realized what a waste of time this “eco-friendly” social engineering event really is? Around our household, there was no reduction. In fact a few extra lights were turned on. I do not see how these experts believe that by cutting your consumption for an hour, you are going to be more aware of the problems. The problems in Ontario are not dealing with conservation or consumption. The problems are decades of mismanagement of power generation and distribution in Ontario, and how we can afford to pay the bill. Those are the real problems. Dropping your power use for one hour is not going to fix that.

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