Help pay for airport

There’s no question the Fort Frances Airport serves the entire Rainy River District and so it’s only fair that district municipalities help shoulder the cost to operate it.
And clearly there’s a sense of urgency. With revenues tumbling, due to fewer flights and the subsequent reduction in landing fees collected and fuel sales, the net operational cost of running the airport skyrocketed to $210,000 last year from just over $94,000 in 2007—a jump Fort Frances simply is not able to cover on its own.
The federal government quit funding the airport in the mid-1990s, and transitional funding from Ottawa to assist the town in taking it over has since run out. As it stands now, unless something changes, and quickly, the likely outcome will be reduced hours of operation at the airport or outright closure.
It’s not cheap to fly out of Fort Frances, and it’s certainly true that passenger volume is down. But the airport is important for those who do use it regularly, and obviously allows for the critical medevac service that could mean the difference between life or death for someone from right across the district.
As well, losing the airport could slam the door on future growth and development. Once it’s gone, it would be very difficult to resurrect should circumstances ever warrant down the road.
Town council made the right move at Monday afternoon’s special meeting to ask the Rainy River District Municipal Association for help in footing the bill, and wisely recommended using the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board’s new funding apportionment formula as the basis for divvying up the burden.
Under the formula, which takes effect Jan. 1, the town would pay 36 percent of the cost of the airport, with the other municipalities paying their appropriate share.
It is a reasonable request, and one the RRDMA is urged to accept to ensure our airport continues to operate.