Peterborough County wants airport offer from city with no strings attached

·2 min read

The offer from Peterborough city council to appoint a Peterborough County representative to its Peterborough Airport strategic initiative committee should only be accepted if the city removes two conditions that came with the offer, a county staff report is advising county council.

In early January, the county was notified by the city that one person from county council could be appointed to the committee. Cavan Monaghan Township Mayor Matthew Graham was chosen by Warden Bonnie Clark.

The airport is owned by the city but is on land in Cavan Monaghan just southwest of the city borders in Cavan Monaghan. The township receives property taxes from businesses on site.

Later that month, the city added two demands: that within six months county council provide a financial plan to city council to participate in the costs related to the growth and expansion of the airport, and that the county position be reviewed on an annual basis at the option of the city.

The request for a financial plan is “particularly concerning,” according to Randy Mellow, senior director of shared and emergency services and deputy chief administrative office of the county, in a report to be presented to Wednesday’s county council meeting.

The airport is an important asset for the Peterborough region providing business, economic and social benefits to the communities, his report states.

As the owner of the airport the city holds decision-making powers about infrastructure, operational funding and strategic direction, and has authority over growth, expansion and related costs, Mellow continues.

“It therefore would be inappropriate for the County of Peterborough to be obligated to produce a financial plan to participate in such costs,” he stated.

In 2021, the city established the committee to “provide advice to staff and council to assist with positioning the airport in regional, provincial and national markets. The committee also provides input for strategic business and marketing plans, capital and operating budgets, level of service and business development efforts,” according to the city.

The appointment of a Peterborough county councilor to the committee provides an avenue for collaboration as a regional stakeholder, Mellow’s report adds.

As the new committee was being formed in 2021, the previous county council asked the previous city council to offer a seat to a county politician, but city council declined.

It was left to the committee to decide, but no announcement about a county politician joining the group was ever made.

After being elected in the fall as the new mayor of Peterborough, Jeff Leal recommended in January that the city invite a county councillor to join.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner