From Goderich Star – link to source story – thanks PN
Kathleen Smith • Jul 14, 2021
In partnership with Huron County Economic Development, in 2021 the Town of Goderich commissioned a study by HM Aero Aviation Consulting.
The aim was to create a Strategic Plan for the Goderich Airport, projected to be complete by late July 2021.
“The intent behind this project was to understand what was needed to get the Goderich Airport to a point of investment alongside a strategic planning initiative by the Airport Task Force,” explained Huron County Economic Development Officer Natasha Gaudio Harrison.
“Experts came in and tell us what aviation investors are interested in, looking for and what needs to happen at any given airport to make it a real viable asset, ready for investment.”
According to a investment attraction report by Harrison and Economic Development Director Cody Joudry, consultants and county staff discussed a path forward.
Learning the strengths of Goderich Airport include limited airway traffic, proximity to Lake Huron and food vendors nearby, Harrison said HM Aero recommended that any infrastructure that needs updating be done before taken to market for investors.
“Moving forward, the idea would be to attract a tenant to the airport,” added Harrison.
With the intent to receive the updated report on the airport for information County Council discussed the future of the Goderich Airport and the cost involved at the July 7 meeting.
According to Joudry the Economic Development Board has up to $50,000 for projects and have committed some of that amount to pay for 50 per cent of the Strategic Plan for the Goderich Airport.
The Town of Goderich owns the airport, yet it resides in a different municipality, creating a unique challenge to developing or investing in the regional airport.
“I have said from the very beginning that it is an asset owned by the Town of Goderich that is here for the betterment of Huron County,” Grace said.
“It’s a regional, rural airport and there are few and far between. If you would like us to sell the airport and turn it into a development of some sort, we can do that also. We have developers wanting to do that.”
Goderich Mayor John Grace divulged that the Town of Goderich has invested nearly $80,000 for immediate upgrades on the airport.
“I congratulate Goderich moving forward and making the investments they need to make to keep this asset going because Huron County is going to grow and we don’t want to lose that airport,” remarked Past-Warden Jim Ginn, Mayor of Central Huron.
“As we become a larger municipality, it’s going to become more important.”
Ginn who sits on both the Economic Development Board and the Airport Committee explained that County Council must focus on key assets and is pleased with the business plan that is coming along for the airport.
In response to questions on the cost of such an investment, Grace commented that he would like to see this asset bring council together and build on successes, rather than split council as discussion of the asset created a division amongst council members.
HM Aero Aviation Consulting aims to have an updated and completed report for County Council by the end of the month. For now the data provided from the report is merely to be received for information.
“All municipalities that have a regional airport are undergoing the same questions as far as viability. It is looked at as an asset. How do we turn it into a productive asset?” Warden Glen McNeil said.
“Not all areas have the excellent working relationship that we do within Huron County with the Town of Goderich and ACW.”
County Council will discuss concrete plans for this ongoing project and eventually vote on investing in Goderich Airport at a future council meeting.
According to council, the last aviation business left the airport nearly 10 years ago. This division of opinion was on the basis of whether investing in the airport was good for all of Huron County or not.
“A report came to council, we asked for an update and that has been provided,” McNeil voiced.
“We will receive the final report in the future and there will be discussion at that time how to deal with it.”