SAVE OWEN SOUND AIRPORT

SAVE OWEN SOUND AIRPORT

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Save Owen Sound Airport started this petition to Owen Sound City Council (City Clerk)

Council has been repeatedly offered assistance to develop a sustainable future plan by aviation experts including Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA), at no cost. The introduction of landing fees was quietly passed by Council under the City Manager's guidance, who has zero aviation management experience, nor did he consult with any formal aviation consultants or experts. Airport staff and hangar owners were blindsided by the swift decision and indeed there was a breach of lease with existing hangar owners. It's time Council take the reins back from City Staff.

Dear Owen Sound City Council and City Manager - Tim Simmonds: Owen Sound

We the people, stakeholders, tax payers, general public and the aviation community must express our urgent concern for the detrimental effects of your decision to charge a landing fee of $35 plus hst for all small aircraft that land at the Owen Sound Airport in an attempt to generate revenue.

Since the airport was build in the early 90's, it has been a vital asset to our community.  Countless lives have been saved as a direct result of the airport infrastructure.  Thousands of people from our area have learned to fly, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in aviation.  Aircraft fly in from all over Southern Ontario to receive Maintenance by qualified Aircraft Mechanics operating at the airport, and millions of dollars have been generated in revenue through fuel sales, tenant and hangar leases.

Implementing new fees for small aircraft will have a damaging impact on the airport and community.  The Owen Sound Airport is home to retired Military and Airline Pilots, active Aerobatic Pilots and new student and licensed private pilots.  Pilots practice take-off and landings regularly to maintain their skills, it is this proficiency that builds safety in aviation.  If an hour to practice landings suddenly costs $350 on top of already high operating expenses, pilots will fly less, skills will degrade and safety will be compromised.

What does implementing this fee mean for the future of the airport?

Small aircraft will not land in Owen Sound when there is a $35 fee for every landing.  Implementing landing fees will be a deterrent for aircraft to use Owen Sound as a destination for fuel.

Less landings means less fuel sales. Less fuel sales equals less revenue, and increased cost to the Owen Sound taxpayer.  As activity drops the deficit grows, and the path to airport closure draws near.

Landing in Owen Sound is now more than twice the rate to land downtown Toronto.  Pilots will simply fly 5 or 10 minutes to the next airport instead.  Other local airports in our area are free to land small aircraft, have restaurants on site, and incentivizing pilots to buy fuel.

No other airports in Grey/Bruce charge such a fee, nor do the vast majority of other small airports across Canada and the U.S.  Small Regional Airports who have implemented lading fees in the past like Waterloo, eventually reversed their decisions when realizing increased overhead and decreased revenues.

Businesses and Aircraft on the field will be negatively impacted, creating losses and financial hardship that could lead to their closure.  The Flight School and Maintenance Facility are key stakeholders who, once lost, may never return.
Why is the airport an Asset worth saving?

Medivac Flights frequent the airport to transport critically ill patients. In poor weather helicopters cannot land at the hospital, but with GPS Instrument Approaches, they can land at the Owen Sound Airport.
Coast Guard, OPP and Military regularly use the airport to support training and rescue operations, while purchasing large quantities of Jet Fuel.

The airport is infrastructure, like a road or a bridge, it connects our City to the World.  The financial "burden" on residents is less than $1/month, of which the vast majority seem in favour of supporting.

The Owen Sound Airport promotes business activity such as Aircraft Maintenance, Education and Tourism. The indirect benefits are hard to quantify, though it is likely many times greater than the operating cost.

When people travel to Owen Sound they sleep in hotels, shop in stores and eat at restaurants that employ our friends and neighbours.  Tourism provides exposure to the Grey Bruce area which supports the growth of our community, making this the place they “want to live”.

When attempting to brand our city as the “working from home capital of Canada”, we must consider the needs of our target market to have efficient transportation to travel back to major centres.

How can we build a future for the airport?

Eliminate landing fees for private small aircraft weighing less than 2500kg, while continuing to charge for larger commercial traffic.

Exempt businesses based on the field from incurring additional landing fees as modelled by virtually all other small airports to promote activity and growth.

Encourage aircraft to fly to Owen Sound through competitive fuel pricing and promotions, and by reinstating a restaurant tenant.  Lease the existing restaurant space to a proven restauranteur with solid community ties and track record.

Partner with Driverseat Owen Sound to provide transportation to airport visitors.

Reduce the lease rate for new hangar construction to promote growth and generate direct revenue.  New construction lease rates at the Owen Sound Airport are almost 4x other airports in the area.

Ensure adequate budget funding is available for routine maintenance of the airport (such as runway crack filing) to extend the service life of the runway and save cost on infrastructure.

Hold regular events to promote the airport and its value to the community.   Wings and Wheels, COPA for Kids, static aircraft displays and airshows are perfect examples of how to do this.  Get the Owen Sound Community to the airport so they can enjoy this asset.

Commission an Economic Impact Study to fully understand the direct, indirect and induced benefits of the airport. 

Solicit other stakeholders and beneficiaries of the airport infrastructure for support, just as the Wiarton Airport is presently doing with RTO7 and Grey County.

Partner with advocacy groups like Regional Community Airports of Canada who are currently lobbying the federal government for support to small airports.

Create a Long-Term Business Plan that encourages investment, usage and growth.  Threatening to close, divest or devalue the airport every 3-5 years is a damaging practice. 

Please Sign, Comment and Share this petition to:

Remove the landing fee for small private aircraft and airport based businesses, and Create a Long Term Business Plan for the Owen Sound Airport

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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!