Stephenville councillor questions fire hall pledge linked to airport purchase

·3 min read
Coun. Lenny Tiller is concerned about the status of a promise for a new $10-million fire hall linked to the sale of the Stephenville airport. (Troy Turner/CBC - image credit)
Coun. Lenny Tiller is concerned about the status of a promise for a new $10-million fire hall linked to the sale of the Stephenville airport. (Troy Turner/CBC - image credit)

The prospective buyer of the Stephenville airport has pledged to spend $10 million on a fire hall in the community as part of any acquisition agreement.

But as a potential deal approaches, a Stephenville councillor is raising concerns about whether the town is doing enough to hold Carl Dymond to that commitment.

Coun. Lenny Tiller says a letter from Dymond doesn't go far enough in protecting the town's interests, if something goes wrong.

"It was the sale of the airport, plus the $10 million for the fire hall," Tiller told CBC News.

"If the sale of the airport happens first and all we have is a letter of intent … I am very fearful that we will never see the $10 million."

Last week, Stephenville council voted in favour of a motion to sign a letter of intent that Dymond sent to the town about the fire hall commitment.

Tiller was the sole dissenting voice.

"What we should have is a guarantee — whether it's a corporate guarantee or whatnot — that we have the corporate guarantee certificate in our hands, it's binding, it's bondable," Tiller said Friday.

"If something happens and the airport sale falls apart, well then we just say, OK, we'll be men about it and cancel it. But until that point we need a corporate guarantee in our hand, in my opinion."

In a January interview with CBC News, Dymond stressed the importance of the fire hall project.

"We want the people of Stephenville and surrounding area to have a good fire hall," Dymond said at the time.

"So we're not going to be nickel and diming anyone over that $10 million purchase price for the airport. So that is with us, a corporate guarantee, to give the town that money once they're ready."

In his June 16 letter to the town, Dymond said his company will release funds on an invoice basis, after the contracts for the work have been awarded.

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

Mayor Tom Rose told CBC News it made sense for council to sign the letter sent by Dymond.

"A corporate guarantee from an entity that has the ability to acquire the Stephenville international airport holds a lot of weight," Rose said.

"To build a fire hall, it could take us three years. So you wouldn't actually tie up $10 million for three years."

Rose said the public vote on the fire hall letter was done at the request of the Stephenville Airport Corporation board, as part of the due diligence process.

The board is expected to convene on Tuesday, with the Dymond proposal believed to be on the agenda.

At last week's Stephenville council meeting, the mayor said it "could be a very significant meeting, with a vote that could take place."

Last September, Dymond held a press conference at the airport to outline his plans for Stephenville.

They include the creation of thousands of jobs, and an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in the region.

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