City council begins process of selling the Owen Sound Billy Bishop Regional Airport
(Photo - Around Owen Sound)
Owen Sound council has voted 5-2 in favour of moving forward with the sale of the Billy Bishop Regional Airport (CYOS).
The deadline has been set for December of 2022 with the hope that any potential buyer continues to operate it as an airport.
The councilors who voted to declare the asset as surplus and sell it point to the $235,000 annual operating cost which has increased from $100,000 just ten years ago and the fact that its not a facility the majority of residents use.
Over the next five years, upgrades to the facility including the runway have been estimated to cost roughly $1.5 million.
“Owning and operating an airport is not a business that we can maintain any longer,” says Mayor Ian Boddy. “One of Council’s corporate priorities is ‘Clear Direction’ and Council and staff believe that the community would be better served if the City divested the asset to another party”.
Back in January, council decided to implement a $35 landing fee for small planes.
At the time, they were warned that pilots would likely boycott Billy Bishop if that happened.
As it turns out, revenue from the landing fee did not cover enough costs while the revenue from fuel also dropped.
The two councilors who oppose the sale - Carol Merton and Marion Koepke - included in arguments against the sale, letters from local doctors who cite the airport's vital role in medical transfers and organ donations.
Staff will begin the process to divest or reassign the responsibilities of CYOS starting with providing notice and inviting public comment for a future report to Council in 2021.
The Owen Sound Billy Bishop Regional Airport was constructed in 1991 and has been operating since 1993.
The property covers approximately 263 acres in the Municipality of Meaford.
The city says over time the needs of a municipality change and services are reviewed to address financial restraints and efficiencies.
The City has been running CYOS for the past 28 years and Council has decided that the aviation community would be better served if the Billy Bishop Regional Airport was privately owned.