News Local

Town concerned over airport governance

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Town of Petawawa Municipal Building

Town of Petawawa Municipal Building

 

PETAWAWA – Councillors have concerns over the conduct of business at the Pembroke and Area Airport.

During their Dec. 18 regular meeting, Mayor Bob Sweet discussed a letter the town received on Dec. 6 from Laurentian Valley Councillor Allan Wren, chairman of the Pembroke and Area Airport Commission. In October, the mayor had sent a letter to the commission expressing his concerns over how meetings were conducted by the body.

In particular, the town's representatives on the commission, Councillor James Carmody and Councillor Theresa Sabourin, indicated they were not receiving agendas or minutes from past meetings. In his letter, Wren said he had asked both Carmody and Sabourin to provided dates when agendas and minutes were not received and stated they could not. He ended the correspondence telling Sweet that in future he should direct questions on matters such as this to the appointed members. That didn't sit well with the mayor.

“I do take exception to the fact that I am being told I can't write to the airport commission,” Sweet told council. “I think that's wrong and something I am not pleased with.”

The town has recently turned down a request from the commission to allocate $5,000 annually to pay for a new runway at the airport. The commission has launched Project Runway, a campaign that is asking community members support their region’s airport by purchasing a foot of runway for $250. With 5,000 feet of runway and a cost of $250 per foot, the campaign’s ultimate goal is to raise $1.25-million to repave the runway. Pembroke, Laurentian Hills and Laurentian Valley have signed onto the campaign.

Carmody explained that he did find email correspondence from Wren, who discussed a decision that had been made by the commission, however, he did not provide the minutes as a record of that decision being made by the body.

“This is the very reason Petawawa is concerned about governance issues at the commission,” said Carmody. “The ratepayers of member communities deserve better accountability than this.”

As a representative since 2006, Sabourin said governance has been an ongoing issue during her tenure with the commission. She explained that former councillor Frank Cirella, as well as retired Pembroke councillor Gary Severin, had pushed to establish a procedural bylaw to address concerns such as the need for minutes and agendas.

“We will continue to point out procedural infractions,” she said. “We continue to bring those types of things forward but we have more work to do.”

SChase@postmedia.com