nl-logo-02 Scroll Down to see all of this week’s updates

Waterville Pilots Find Home

Waterville Airport in Nova Scotia closes March 31.
Waterville Airport in Nova Scotia closes March 31.

Private aircraft orphaned by the closure of Waterville Airport in Nova Scotia will find a home at the nearby RCAF base at Greenwood.

The Freedom Aviation Society, which represents the pilots based at Waterville, signed an agreement with the military to set up a civilian operation at the sprawling base, which is home to two squadrons of Aurora long-range patrol aircraft.

There is a short-term agreement in place covering the immediate necessity of moving the aircraft based in Waterville out before the airport closes on March 31.

A long-term agreement is in the works and when it’s signed it will allow the construction of hangars and other GA facilities at the base.

That will be helped out by a $1.147 million grant from the Municipality of Kings

County as compensation to the local aviation community for closing the airport out from under them.

The plan is to sell the airport lands to Michelin Tire Corp. which has a huge plant adjacent to the airport. There are no concrete plans to expand the plant but Michelin said it would like to own the land in case it ever wants to build on.

Although the local aviation community was vocally opposed to the Waterville closure, the new deal at Greenwood seems to have placated them.

“It’s a wonderful facility, far beyond anything that the county could afford [at Waterville], or that we could afford on our own,” Freedom Aviation Society President Paul Easson told CBC News.

“The possibilities are greater at Greenwood than at any other option we could have taken advantage of. When you have two runways that are 8,000 feet long and 200 feet wide and built to handle the heaviest military aircraft around, you got lots of possibilities.”

Collingwood Fights Wind Farm

Collingwood is fighting construction of a wind farm near its airport.
Collingwood is fighting construction of a wind farm near its airport.

Virtually every municipal and regional government organization in and around Collingwood, Ontario is fighting the provincial government’s approval of a wind turbine farm about two nautical miles from Collingwood Airport.

No less than six formal appeals have been filed.

The wind farm would consist of eight wind turbines each 152 metres (500 feet) tall and located a few hundred metres west of the extended centreline of Runway 13.

The local councils have a long list of gripes about the project, including land use,

aesthetic and noise issues, but there also appears to be a shared concern about the fate of the airport.

A consultant’s report says the wind farm will disrupt operations at the airport and likely kill plans for an aviation-related industrial park next to it.

Local pilots and aviation groups are concerned about the safety considerations of having the towers so close to the operating area of the airport.

In a radio interview earlier this month, Canadian Owner and Pilots Association President Bernard Gervais said the turbines present a significant hazard, particularly in bad weather. “It will restrict access to the airport,” he said.

Despite the sheer weight of local opposition, the provincial government appears unmoved and gave final approval in February. Normally, there are ample and effective avenues of appeal on provincial decisions like this but wind farms have a special place in the Ontario legal lexicon.

Essentially, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is the only authority in the permit process and no amount of local opposition will move them.

“Premier (Kathleen) Wynne talked about how unwilling communities would get their say and that wind turbines wouldn’t be forced upon them and that’s exactly what’s happening in Clearview. They are being forced upon us,” David Burton, deputy mayor of Clearview, the community adjacent to Collingwood in which the wind farm will be built, told the Enterprise Bulletin newspaper.

Steve Sage, the community’s chief administrative officer, said he doubts the  protests will be seriously considered.

“If this was anything other than green energy, I’d be confident. But because it’s green energy, I have no confidence in the process,” he said.

Wiarton Airport Expansion Eyed

A local fundraising campaign has been launched in Wiarton

Georgian Bluffs, Ontario, which owns Wiarton-Keppel International Airport near Wiarton, Ontario is launching a fund-raising drive to improve facilities at the airport.

The airport was turned over to local communities in 1996 when Transport Canada divested itself of airport assets and hasn’t had much work done on it since.

Topping the priorities is resurfacing and extending the current 5,000-foot asphalt runway to 6,000 feet and installing new runway lights.

“Like everything else, there is all kinds of opportunity for work we need to do on it, but we need to do the basics to start with and it all starts today,” Georgian Bluffs Mayor Al Barefoot told reporters last week.

The fundraising will be used to augment the local share of airport improvement funds, which will also include provincial and federal contributions. In general, the federal and provincial governments will base their funding contributions on the amount the local community is willing to kick in so the funds raised locally will be leveraged into a major investment by senior levels of government.

When the airport was divested by Transport Canada, it was given jointly to Georgian Bluffs and South Bruce Peninsula. The two municipalities chronically disagreed on the future and function of the airport and therefore little has been done to keep it up in the last 20 years.

Last year Georgian Bluffs bought out South Bruce Peninsula and wants to improve the facility.

“This council made the decision to buy the airport,” said Barfoot. “Within this term of council we need to turn this place around and we are confident we can do that.”

The improvements are being done with an eye to attracting airline service. Porter and WestJet have both been approached.

“It would certainly entice business coming in if they knew there were plans for a new runway,” said Barfoot.

The municipality is also hoping to attract aviation-related businesses to the facility.

21 WOAW Events in Canada

Porter Airlines pilot Claire Lemiski attended the Oshawa event.
Porter Airlines pilot Claire Lemiski attended the Oshawa event.

The sixth Women of Aviation Worldwide Week attracted 44,000 participants worldwide  and Canada hosted 21 of the 120 events held on four continents.

The Canadian events were held in six provinces and attracted hundreds of participants.

Quebec pilot Yves Barbeau was named the Most Supportive Male Pilot for his volunteer effort in flying girls and women on their first trips in small aircraft.

Canadian events at Lachute, Quebec and Peterborough, Ontario were runners up in the top prize of Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport Worldwide behind the winner South Texas International in Edinburgh, Texas.

WOAW emphasizes tangible results from the activities it sanctions during each week and founder Mireille Goyer said that’s the way to build the female pilot population.

“With mostly stagnating women of aviation populations, inspiring is not enough. The goal is to encourage tangible action,” she said. “Our survey show that 23 percent are more than just inspired; they are starting their training, immediately.”

WOAW will hold its first annual symposium in Vancouver on May 26 and the major awards from this week will be handed out.

The seventh event week will be held from March 6-12 and will mark Hanna Reitsch’s first flight in a helicopter in 1937. The theme is “Let’s whirl: 80 years of female helicopter pilots.