Airport cost sharing plans clear hurdle

Cornwall Regional Airport Commission Chairman Frank Prevost, left, and South Glengarry Infrastructure General Manager Ewen MacDonald during a budget meeting Feb. 27, 2015. South Glengarry has agreed to remove an airport funding cap as a sign of good faith in order to hammer out a new agreement with the City of Cornwall. (Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL/SOUTH GLENGARRY – An earlier road block toward renegotiating a newer funding agreement for the Cornwall Regional Airport has been cleared.

South Glengarry passed a motion Sept. 14, removing the $10,000 cap on its cost sharing for the airport, as a sign of good faith bargaining.

South Glengarry will enter into a business plan exercise with Cornwall under its 85-15 (City-Township) funding agreement with the hopes that a new operating agreement will come out of the business plan.

In June, the same council had turned down a similar motion, which led to tension between the two municipalities and the airport commission chairman accusing the city of stalling the process of brokering a new deal. Adding to further strained relations was the city’s decision in late March to pull airport capital funding to install a fuel system at the Summerstown airport.

Under the terms of the 1984 agreement, the city was paying $123,800 for the airport this year while South Glengarry was capped at $10,000.

“I think it’s great,” said Justin Towndale, Cornwall’s airport commission appointee, on word of the cap being lifted. “I give credit to Coun. (Lyle) Warden for bringing that back to the table and I think that the concerns that were in South Glengarry have been addressed,” Towndale said in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch.

Towndale believes it’s a good first step. “The population has shifted over the years, the ability of fiscal support has too, so it’s a good opportunity for the two communities…to get together and review the agreement.”

The councillor said a lot has changed over the summer. “With respect to the mentality of cooperation between Cornwall and the other townships, before they were townships when they were small communities, Cornwall always saw itself as the big fish and, quite frankly, acted like it. You know, they didn’t really give a lot of respect to the townships, in my opinion, so now we’re at this point where it’s no longer a way to do business,” Towndale said.

Towndale said a lot of relationships were improved during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference this summer.

The Chief Administrative Officers for Cornwall and South Glengarry are now working on terms of reference for completing the business plan.

City council will decide tonight (Monday) on dates for both municipalities to meet.

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