News Local

Airport commission responds to Petawawa

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Pembroke and Area Airport

Pembroke and Area Airport

 

The Pembroke and Area Airport Commission has responded to criticism about how the organization has conducted its meetings.

In a letter released to the media Tuesday, Laurentian Valley Councillor Allan Wren fired back after charges were levelled by the Town of Petawawa that the commission has not provided agendas or minutes from meetings to its board of directors.

“It was not my preference to single out one municipality's conduct at meetings,” said Wren, who is the commission's chairman. “I prefer to handle issues the way we had done so until recently - by discussion and agreeing around the Commission table. However when the Town of Petawawa chose to make their allegations public, I felt that, out of respect for the people at the Commission table and our staff, they should be addressed.”

Wren explained that the commission's appointed individuals from Whitewater Region, Laurentian Valley, Pembroke, Petawawa, Deep River and Laurentian Hills and Garrison Petawawa receive minutes and agendas by email.

“All Commission members were asked if they were receiving the agendas and minutes and all said they were with the exception of Petawawa,” said Wren. “When asked to provide dates when agendas and minutes were not sent, Petawawa's representatives were not able to do so. This was conveyed before Christmas to the Town of Petawawa under my signature. No response was received.”

At its Dec. 18 meeting, Petawawa town council discussed the airport. At that time, 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. Carmody expressed his opinion that there were governance issues at the airport. However, Wren stated the meeting process undertaken by the commission has been open and transparent.

“Commission meetings are open to the public and members of the public do attend these meetings,” said Wren. “The meetings follow an approved agenda, and all decisions are put to a majority vote and moved by motion if required. Members of the Commission always have a chance to speak on issues and bring items forward. The Commission is accountable to their municipal owners, and provides minutes to all Chief Administrative Officers for its owner municipalities on a regular basis.”

Furthermore, Wren said the airport undergoes a financial audit every year by our accounting firm, Dean Sinclair. Copies of the financial report are also provided to Commission members, and each owner municipality. There has never been any allegation of accountability issues by the accounting firm, and in fact, they often praise the airport for their smart use of limited financial resources, he added.

Wren also took exception to media reporting that Petawawa has chosen not to financially support Project Runway, a campaign that is asking community members support their region’s airport by purchasing a foot of runway for $250. The chairman explained that it is the host community's prerogative to opt out if they desire to do so. So far, Deep River, Pembroke, Laurentian Valley and Whitewater Region have decided to commit $5,000 each.

“If a municipal owner chooses not to contribute more than that, they are not required to do so as per the airport's bylaws,” he said. “As Project Runway is a fundraiser, it was an option for municipal owners to contribute.”

Wren concluded that he hopes to work with the Town of Petawawa on the commission to ensure that they develop and maintain a facility that they can be proud of and one that meets the transportation needs of Renfrew County.

SChase@postmedia.com