By Andrew Macdonald
Cape Breton Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner says he backs taxpayers dollars going to a controversial plan to build an airport at Cabot Links at its two Inverness stunning golf courses, because he believes the Inverness airport project would be able to cater to scheduled commercial air flights.
Think flights into Inverness from Jazz, Air Canada, West Jet & Porter.
Cuzner says the Port Hawkesbury Airport, one hour away from Inverness, does not have such scheduled commercial flights.
I did hear that last week, Jazz actually landed at Port Hawkesbury after golfers chartered its airplane from Toronto.
It’s been sometime since Jazz and Air Canada actually landed at the Yarmouth airport – which is bigger than Port Hawkesbury’s airport – and which serves a bigger area than Inverness.
But, Yarmouth de-certified as a scheduled commercial airport to become a private airport to save substantial costs associated with being a commercial airport.
To understand the Yarmouth airport I spoke to its director, well known veteran town lawyer and former councillor with the Southwestern NS town, the legendary Clifford Hood.
Where once Jazz landed, the Yarmouth airport now only caters to private jets, military aircraft and emergency search and rescue planes land now a days.
Hood is a former aviation pilot with the original Air Atlantic, and in the 1970s flew on aerial Bud Worm spray flights in the Maritimes, and he later graduated from Dal Law School.
“I’ve been following the story on Cabot Links keenly” he tells The Macdonald Notebook.
“I am familiar with the Port Hawkesbury Airport, I’ve flown into it in the wintertimes during snow storms”, he notes.
“I was on town council when people from Transport Canada said we’d have to divest the airport”. That was in 1999 when the federal government ended its ownership of airports across the country.
That included that year Ottawa divesting ts ownership of the Halifax airport, and in 1999 creating the Halifax International Airport Authority, which now runs Halifax Stanfield.
“I didn’t believe it frankly and council made a mistake but not telling Ottawa to go stuff it – we shouldn’t have tolerated that”.
The Yarmouth airport is owned by three municipal governments in the Southwestern region, Argyle, Yarmouth County and Yarmouth town.
Hood says the $18 million cost associated with a Cabot Links airport project “is going to be a lot more than that”.
“It is going to cost more than that” Hood tells The Macdonald Notebook.
“Here is the killer, here are key things – they go ahead and build it, you have to have infrastructure, you have to staff and and some municipal government is going to get stuck with that – or some corporation is going to go broke – sticking a municipal government with it”, he tells me.
“That is what is going to happen”, forecasts Hood.
“It’s a money pit”.
I will carry more of my 30-minute chat with Cliff Hood in a future edition of The Macdonald Notebook.