― By: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Three North Simcoe municipalities hope the public pilots its way to an incoming Huronia Airport Commission meeting about a potential land sale. Next Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Midland municipal chambers, a virtual meeting will be held with partnering municipalities Penetanguishene and Tiny Township regarding the potential land sale of roughly 20 acres of airport CYEE located in Tiny for the purposes of supporting the airport’s capital needs.
Penetanguishene Mayor Doug Rawson told Midland Today that although the discussion was no surprise to mayors, deputy mayors and CAOs of the municipalities, “due course” would need to be followed through a public information session as all municipalities would have to give authorization to the Huronia Airport Commission (HAC). “I think this is a really good thing; I think it’s very positive for North Simcoe,” said Rawson. “Last term of council for Midland, Penetanguishene and Tiny were working hard on how to bring the airport to the next level, and that started with the (‘Strategic Development Plan for the Huronia Airport, July 2019’) Loomex Group report.” Rawson added: “The recommendation was that up to 20 acres would be parceled off for appropriate commercial activities at the airport.”
An example of value for the property can be found in a 2021 review from the HAC regarding development opportunities and constraints; one currently-existing parcel of land for commercial aviation at CYEE – not for sale – measured roughly 5.4 acres and could accommodate up to 35 hangars. Additionally in 2021, the HAC task force recommended multi-plot development of a 10-acre parcel of non-aviation commercial phase 1 for lease or sale, with another multi-plot development of 7 to 10 acres as aviation commercial phase 3 for lease or sale to aviation-based companies.
For the upcoming meeting about the potential land sale, a presentation by the HAC will be provided to the three councils along with discussion. Once concluded, each municipality will leave the joint meeting and separate to their own respective committee of the whole meetings for further discussion as it pertains to their own municipality.
“The public can join the meeting to watch either in person or on Zoom,” explained Midland acting CAO Andy Campbell. “The (HAC) meeting will not have a ‘public meeting’ agenda item, so there will not be an opportunity for the public to ask questions of (Midland) council. In summary, the meeting is the same as most council meetings where the public can only observe the debate by their elected officials.” The framework for the Tiny Township portion will be similar, according to director of legislative services/clerk Sue Walton.
“This a joint presentation to the ownership municipalities and although open to the public, no municipal business will be advanced and no deputations will be received during this (HAC) presentation,” said Walton. “Township of Tiny council will be attending the presentation virtually. The presentation will not be available for viewing in the Township of Tiny council chambers as a result.”
Once Tiny council parts into their special committee of the whole meeting, Walton said: “It is at this meeting that council will consider the presentation and associated request from the (HAC) and make a recommendation in this regard… (and) that deputations would be received as per our deputation policy.”
For Penetanguishene, Mayor Rawson confirmed that council would also break off into a committee of the whole meeting for discussion, but any public input regarding the presentation should be provided to him prior to the event. “Anything that I have for the public meeting, I will ask the question and have them before our experts that will be at the (HAC) presentation,” said Rawson. Rawson shared excitement over the potential for the airport as well as his anticipation for the joint meeting. “There were a lot of recommendations about upgrades and enhancements that the owners of the airport should be thinking about, that the HAC should be considering; and they’ve been operationalizing some of those recommendations. Lots of positive things have been worked on.”
However, Rawson pointed out that patience was key for the benefit of all North Simcoe residents. “This isn’t about racing to make a decision; it’s about making an informed decision and doing the right thing,” added Rawson. “I wholeheartedly believe this is the best thing for the town of Penetanguishene and North Simcoe, our member municipalities. There’s not a lot of downside; I see an upside to this. Let’s take our time and do it right.”
Details regarding the 2019 Loomex Group final report and Huronia Airport Commission review can be found in the January 2022 committee of the whole agenda on the Town of Penetanguishene website. The presentation is open to the public and will be held in the Town of Midland council chambers located at 575 Dominion Avenue in Midland. In the event a member of the public wishes to attend the presentation virtually, please contact Sarah Cathcart, Deputy Clerk, via town email to receive the Zoom meeting link. In the event a member of the public wishes to attend one of the council meetings virtually, the public is asked to contact the clerk of the respective municipality as noted below.
For more information, please contact:
Town of Midland: Sherri Edgar, Clerk | 705-526-4275, Ext. 2210
Town of Penetanguishene: Stacey Cooper, Clerk | 705-549-7453, Ext. 211
Township of Tiny: Sue Walton, Director of Legislative Services/Clerk | 705-526-4204, Ext. 225
(Photo credit: Gus & Clara Carujo)