Sarnia council calls for public meeting on airport’s future

Vacant Chris Hadfield Airport in Sarnia Oct. 2020 (Photo by Matt McNeill)

Sarnia council is trying to get a grip on uncertainty at Chris Hadfield Airport.

Council has directed staff to provide the audited annual financials from the airport tenant by November 1.

Councillor Margaret Bird said it will help them investigate and research the history.

“The tenant has asked twice for money from the city in order to continue, however, the tenant says the airport has been running at a loss and he’s been funding operations from one of his other businesses as well as from his own personal funding,” said Bird. “But, until we see the audited financials, as per the contractual obligation stated in the lease, then we absolutely, can not respond to the tenant’s proposals at this time.”

Council has also asked staff to arrange a public meeting for residents and stakeholders to share their thoughts on the airport’s future.

“We all come from different viewpoints, but we all share a common belief that what’s going on, as it is, is unsustainable,” said Bird.

“This is a very serious situation right now, one that needs to be resolved. (We need) a new path for our economic driver, Chris Hadfield Airport, as soon as possible, before we miss all the aviation and business opportunities.”

Council defeated a motion Monday to pay the tenant $10,000 a month, for six months, to assist with operations.

In September, a Toronto consultant recommended the city divest itself of the airport and use proceeds from the sale to bolster other assets.

Air Canada announced in March it was pulling out of Sarnia effective July 26.