Council to revisit decision to close runway

Duane Hicks

After voting last month in favour of closing the secondary runway at the Fort Frances Airport, town council agreed last night to revisit its decision.
Coun Ken Perry said he was at the airport on Saturday for the annual “Fly-in, Drive-in BBQ” and toured the secondary runway and taxiway with two local pilots.
The pilots told him the secondary runway is better than anything else in Northwestern Ontario between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay.
“Their comments, while we were driving, is that secondary runway is in better shape than some of the primary runways at other airports,” Coun. Perry noted.
He said there’s six major cracks that need to be repaired, but added the entire runway does not have to be resurfaced.
“If that runway needs to be . . . replaced, we’ve got a lot of work to do in this town because most roads in Fort Frances are in worse shape than that runway is,” Coun. Perry continued.
The pilots estimated it would cost $10,000-$20,000 to fix the secondary runway so it would be up to a standard acceptable to small planes, not $1 million or $100,000, he noted.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft said the information the Operations and Facilities executive committee received regarding the price of fixing the runway was the cost that would bring it up to the standards of Transport Canada.
“They may have to dictate to us the amount of work,” he remarked. “It may not our decision as to whether we just in-fill the cracks.
“If they tell us, ‘If you’re going to keep that operational, you’re going to have to spend ‘x’ amount of dollars,’ then we’re going to be compelled to spend that much,” he warned.
Coun. Wiedenhoeft also noted the closure of the secondary runway doesn’t completely eliminate its use by pilots; they just will be using it at their own risk.
The matter was referred back to the Operations and Facilities executive committee, which will try to get more information from Transport Canada regarding the necessary repairs to the secondary runway.
As previously reported, the permanent closure of Runway 03/21—commonly known as “Cross Runway”—was approved by town council at its Aug. 10 meeting.
In other news, town council began its 2010 budget process last night with an open meeting to get input from the public.
Council heard presentations from OPP Cst. Anne McCoy of Safe Communities—Rainy River District, Elaine Fischer of the Active Transportation Committee, Patti Anderson of the Downtown BIA, and resident Bud Danylchuk (who requested snow removal assistance for seniors).
Council also received a letter from the local “Meals on Wheels” program, and requests from Mayor Roy Avis.
Also at last night’s meeting, council:
•heard a presentation from Milt Strachan Jr., president of the Fort Frances Lakers, asking for the town’s support of the Junior ‘A’ hockey team this season and into the future;
•heard a police services activity report from OPP Insp. John Kendrick;
•heard an activity report from economic development officer Geoff Gillon;
•received, with appreciation for service, a letter of resignation from Henriette Verhoef from the Committee of Adjustment;
•referred a joint financial request from Northwestern Ontario Tourism Association, Kenora District Camp Owners Association, Sunset Country Travel Association, and Patricia Region Tourism Council re: a marketing forum for tourism in Sunset Country (Sept. 22-23) to the Administration and Finance executive committee for its recommendation;
•referred correspondence from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services re: Fort Frances Master Fire Plan to the Community Services executive committee for its recommendation;
•proclaimed Oct. 21, 2009 as “Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day” in the Town of Fort Frances, as per a joint request from CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care;
•passed a bylaw to approve an agreement with the minister of Energy and Infrastructure and the minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for financing of a new Fort Frances Public Library and Technology Centre under the Building Canada Fund—Communities Component; and
•passed a bylaw to approve an agreement with the minister of Energy and Infrastructure and the minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for financing of a biomass road, water, and sewer project under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.