Aircraft maintenance company in talks to locate at Stanhope Airport
By Jenn Watt
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Oct. 15 meeting of Algonquin Highlands council.
To continue to grow, Stanhope Airport needs to begin offering more services to pilots, particularly maintenance services, Chris Kovachik, vice-president of Kovachik Aircraft Services told council.
Kovachik’s company was founded in 1962 in Burlington and maintains airplanes and includes a flight school. Kovachik told council he had been coming to the area for a few years and saw potential at the Stanhope Airport.
“We’d like to establish a satellite base here, it would be accomplished quick and easy,” he said.
He was complimentary about the local facilities, calling the airport “fantastic.”
“It’s great. There’s hangars, there’s a nice runway, Cam does a great job of running it, but there’s just got to be someone there that’s a professional,” he said.
As an aircraft maintenance organization, or AMO, the company has been approved by Transport Canada.
Kovachik said a new start-up would take months to go through the regulatory process and cost about $80,000. Going with his company would avoid those hurdles.
Having an AMO at the airport would attract new customers and keep old ones, he said.
“It will keep your existing customers happy so they won’t have to go to other airports to get their aircraft maintained,” Kovachik said.
KAS would need a 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot shop.
“What I envision is a lot of float planes,” he said.
“If they’re coming up here, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be spending some money here and using the facilities that are already existing here.”
Kovachik said summers would be busiest for his company, but that in the winter they would have a couple of staff members working on projects such as painting, fabric and structure repairs.
Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen asked whether a flight school might be possible for the airport.
Kovachik said it could be ideal for Indian flight students, who have a history of coming to Canada for training.
“This would be a fantastic opportunity for that because housing’s inexpensive ... compared to the GTA and they can just focus on their flying,” he said.
“I see the whole operation as being a real bonus for the airport,” Danielsen said.
Reeve Carol Moffatt told Kovachik to continue discussions with the airport manager Cam Loucks.
AH wants in on Dorset projects
Three representatives from Dorset Community Partnership came to council to update them on the Dorset Community Health Hub, Dorset waterfront development and economic development support.
Stefan Szczerbak, Jennifer Pilon and Collin Reaney gave updates on the progress made on each of the projects.
The health hub construction is nearly complete and is now fully staffed, Reaney said. Thirty-five per cent of donations for the project have come from Algonquin Highlands residents.
He asked that council consider giving the project $20,000 in 2016 for capital costs or a 50-50 split between capital and operations costs.
Moffatt commended Reaney for his work and asked what the plan was once the initial three-year commitment from the province ended.
“Our intent is to go on with the partnership,” he said, noting that if it was successful he expected the hub would continue to receive funding.
Moffatt said it was hard to keep up with what the group was doing without more regular updates at the council table.
“It’s an exciting project and we’re happy to be involved,” she said. “But I sometimes feel like we’re putting money into an anonymous pot.”
Danielsen echoed Moffatt’s concern, telling Reaney that council was looking for a way to feel involved with decision making.
“I can’t agree more,” he replied. “Thirty-five per cent of a half a million dollars is a strong contribution from your community.”
The funding request was forwarded to budget discussions.
Following Reaney’s presentation, Pilon spoke about the waterfront project. FedNor came through with $45,000 and the Dorset Community Partnership Fund is contributing $15,000 for the waterfront development plan and downtown study.
“The hope is that in November that we will do the selection process and hire a consultant,” Pilon said.
Moffatt said that this project, like the health hub, seemed to have been planned without much consultation with Algonquin Highlands.
“When you sent us the application ... in March, it was just Lake of Bays and now it’s the Algonquin Highlands museum and Algonquin Highlands tower and Algonquin Highlands parkette and Algonquin Highlands rec centre and that’s all great, but how did that ever happen? We just want to play. Why can’t someone pick up the phone and ask us to be more actively involved in this?” she asked.
Algonquin Highlands seems like an afterthought, she said, but with better collaboration more funds and expertise could be leveraged.
The presenters agreed to be more collaborative.