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.