Airport development seeks servicing funds

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Proponents of the Clearview Aviation Business Park (CABP) are asking for an investment from taxpayers to service the property, saying it will pay off in the form of tax revenue.

Paul Bonwick, Senior VP of Operations and Business Development for Clearview Aviation Business Park, told Clearview council Monday that the best solution available to facilitate the development is a direct line from Wasaga Beach at a cost of $10 million.

The plan is to build an airport related commercial development next to the Collingwood Regional Airport, which is located in Clearview.

“We recognize the federal and provincial support for these cost could be approximately $6,600,000 requiring a municipal contribution of $3,300,300. As part of our commitment to work with Clearview Township and its residents to realize the vision of creating a 300-acre state of the art aviation/aerospace hub, the CABP team is prepared to contribute approximately 75 per cent of the cost the municipality will be asked to contribute. Going beyond this amount, CABP will also agree to pay any portion that exceeds the municipal commitment of $750,000,” said Bonwick.

“This potential collective commitment from the federal government, the provincial and CABP will ensure that the taxpayers of Clearview, both current and future (resulting from this development) will only be responsible for approximately 7.5 per cent of the overall cost of this municipal servicing solution.”

If everything plays out according to plan, Clearview’s treasurer Edward Henley reported Clearview could see an increase of $1,269,678 in property taxes (based on 2015 tax rates) for $151,000,000 in new assessed value, split 70 per cent commercial and 30 per cent industrial.

Council did not agree to contribute any funds but did direct staff to engage the provincial and federal governments for the purpose of providing the necessary financial support to facilitate water and sewer services to the development.

Bonwick said although there isn’t a specific government fund they are hoping to tap into, they want to have their application ready to go soon, hoping to confirm funding before the provincial election and he said it always helps if the municipality has “skin in the game”.

Mayor Christopher Vanderkruys was reluctant to commit taxpayers’ money to the project.

“We can’t count on the future,” he said, “We have to think of the taxpayer now.”

CAO Steve Sage said staff has been working on the technical end of the servicing project and this is the next step.

“It really does help with the application if the municipality has skin in the game, to use Paul’s words,” said Sage.

Deputy Mayor Barry Burton said, although there are a lot of ifs, “I think it would be worthwhile to look into the funding.”

The “ifs” have emerged from the Town of Collingwood’s decision to sell the airport. The decision surprised many municipal officials, especially since area municipalities contributed to the effort to fight the approval of wind turbines near the airport.

During budget deliberations Monday afternoon, council agreed to withdraw its annual contribution of $25,000 and has yet to discuss whether it will withdraw its representation on the airport services board, as suggested by Burton, who is the current representative.

Bonwick said the business park can proceed without the funding but that isn’t “the most practical or reasonable solution”.

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