N.S. to consider investment in proposed Inverness County airport
Owners of Cabot Links, Cabot Cliffs golf courses seeking airport to bring in players,guests
Premier Stephen McNeil says the provincial and federal governments are prepared to consider funding a new airport in Inverness County, N.S.
The owners of Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses have been asking for an airport to be built that would bring golfers closer to their operations.
McNeil said the federal government asked the province to include the proposal on a list of joint infrastructure projects, and the province agreed.
"We typically don't invest in airports," McNeil told reporters in Halifax on Thursday.
"The [federal] government asked us to put this on the list. As you know, we go back and forth. There are a number of priorities for us that we require their support on that may not be their No. 1 priority, but through negotiation they end up being on the list, and this is the case here."
The Town of Port Hawkesbury owns the nearby Allan J. MacEachen airport, and town officials and the private-sector operator are opposed to the construction of another facility.
They say the county doesn't need two airports, and they say it's unfair for government to fund a new business that could harm an existing one.
McNeil acknowledged the controversy, but said the golf courses have spurred much private investment in Cape Breton.
"If there's public infrastructure that can support or help that grow, I think it's something that all governments should look at, and the national government has recognized that and asked us to put it on the list."
No details on cost, funding
The premier also said he didn't have the details and couldn't say how much federal or provincial money was involved.
Alberta MP John Barlow, the Conservative critic for employment, workforce development and labour, has launched a petition asking the federal government to stay out of investing in an airport for Inverness.
He told Information Morning Cape Breton that businesses on the west side of the island, including the operator of the Port Hawkesbury airport, had contacted him with their concerns.
Barlow said it's unusual for the federal government to be investing in new airports, and it doesn't make sense when there is already a facility an hour away.
Petition has 1,500 signatures
"For the Liberal government to step in and pick winners and losers when it comes to airports and businesses, that is where they are overstepping their bounds," he said.
Barlow said the federal government is being asked to spend $18 million on the proposal, but he didn't say where that figure came from.
He said his petition has garnered more than 1,500 signatures in less than a week.
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With files from Jean Laroche