— By Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
The South Shore Regional Airport located in Greenfield has been sold to a private buyer.
The Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) was the owner of the property. Council made the sale official at the RQM council meeting April 12 after an in-camera session.
The airport has been sold to Liemke Ventures Limited for a total of $565,000 plus HST.
“I can tell you that when Mr. Liemke tells the community of his plans, they’re going to be very pleased. It will continue to operate as an airport, and there’s a good relationship with the South Shore Flying Club and the Nova Scotia Drag Racing Association,” RQM Mayor Darlene Norman said in an interview with LighthouseNOW.
“This is a great step forward to ensure the continuation and future development of an airstrip for the South Shore, which is what it was built for. The sale ensures that the airstrip will continue and grow and provide many new attributes to the northern part of Queens. It’s a good news story.”
Following an in-camera discussion about the sale, the council resumed the public session of the council meeting to vote on the sale. All councillors supported the sale with the exception of Deputy Mayor Kevin Muise, who commented before the final vote of councillors, “I am not in favour of this sale. I find the price is way too low. I know it is the appraised value, but I find it’s way too low.”
The mayor later commented in an email to LighthouseNOW that the airport was sold for the appraised value, “which, according to the Municipal Government Act, must be realized. Could we have requested more, yes, we could have, but why turn away the opportunity to finally put the airport lands into the hands of a business that wishes to see it grow and prosper. This sale has long-standing benefits which far outweigh the (money).”
She added that it was appraised recently by a third-party business that looked at comparable large land sales in the area and the value of the infrastructure.
The assessed value of the property and amenities was $826,000.
CEO and owner of Liemke Ventures Ltd., Gerd Liemke, said there were a couple of reasons for the purchase.
“Two key aspects convinced our investment. Primarily, the strategic location in between the South Shore together with the Nova Scotia growth rate and secondary, the foreseen demand of an alternative logistic hub for the seafood industry,” he said in an email.
Liemke Ventures Ltd. (LVL) is a private company founded in 2020 and registered in Nova Scotia. It is based in Hubbards and is a member of a German-based holding with its main focus in aviation and related business.
Liemke said the airport will remain a public airport and a long-term strategic growth plan is in place. A part of the plan is to install a JetA1 fuel station to serve turbine aircraft such as law enforcement, firefighters, EMS aircraft and midsize business jets. He also wants to build a hangar to accommodate private planes for visitors and local pilots and “reactivate the airport as a port of entry for U.S. travellers.”
His vision for the airport includes “becoming the first choice airport for aviators visiting the South Shore, become a logistic hub for the local seafood industry, contribute to the region’s economic growth, add value for the community of Queens, share and support the passion of flying and to serve rescue and law enforcement agencies.”
The airport has served the area for more than 50 years. Work began on a landing strip in 1965 with the first routine flights taking place in 1970.
It has been operated by members of the South Shore Flying Club (SSFC) an entity formed in 2015 and in 2016 the club signed a 13-year contract with RQM to manage it. The municipality had stopped supplying a manager for the airport several years earlier, according to Norman.
Peter Gow, president of SSFC, said the club is “pleased that things finally finished up. I am certainly looking forward to seeing what happens from here,” he said. “We’ve been doing what we can to keep it alive, and so far we’ve been able to do that, and now that Mr. Leimke is involved that only means bigger and better things. So we’re looking forward to that.”
The flying club boasts nearly 40 members.
Jack Johnson, the spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Drag Racing Association, said the club has been racing at the airport for the past 18 seasons. He indicated it has worked out a multi-year contract with the new owner.
“We look forward to keeping drag racing on the South Shore for many years to come. I think it’s the beginning of a strong relationship,” he said. The club has five scheduled race weekends this year beginning in May.
(Photo: South Shore Regional Airport)