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More municipal services needed for future expansion, jobs at Peterborough airport

City-owned Peterborough Airport in Cavan Monaghan Township.
City-owned Peterborough Airport in Cavan Monaghan Township. Mark Giunta/Global News

It’s been a contentious issue for years — should the City of Peterborough annex the city-owned Peterborough Airport from Cavan Monaghan Township, which owns the land it stands on?

Speaking at a press event for future jobs at the airport on Friday, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith said he would like to see the topic broached again.

“The airport is in a great position to expand.  It has land but not all the services,” said Smith.  “This is one of those cases, where I’m hoping perhaps the conversation of annexation or amalgamation comes up between the city and [the Township] again, because it just makes sense for everybody to have that expansion of employment lands for the area.”

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Both mayors of the communities in-question agree on the need for expansion of employment lands around the airport.

Peterborough mayor Diane Therrien and Cavan Monaghan mayor Scott McFadden met on Monday morning for an informal chat over coffee.

At that meeting, they discussed community centres as well as the airport lands.

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Both say they’re open to talking about ways to better serve the region for jobs, regardless of who owns the airport.

Focus Ontario: The High Cost of Not Doing Business
Focus Ontario: The High Cost of Not Doing Business

“Cavan Monaghan and Peterborough need to come to a resolution that works for everyone.  Certainly, we don’t want to do anything hostile.  Those are ongoing discussions and we’re willing to explore anything,” said Therrien.

“There is an emphasis from staff and council about the importance of the airport and bringing it into the city limit.  Cavan Monaghan is aware that it’s a priority for us, but how we get there, is a conversation we’re having.”

“I think we need to take a different approach to the entire topic as other municipalities do.  If you look at the northern municipalities of the GTA, a lot their services come through regional servicing,” said McFadden.  “Everyone can come out a winner.  Unfortunately, at times, the councils can get caught up in the politics of the individual municipalities.

“We need to take a step back and focus on what’s required and come to an agreement on something that’s a win-win for both municipalities, we’ll all be further ahead.”

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Right now, an environmental assessment is underway to add more city-owned water and wastewater pipes under Airport Road to service the airport.

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Therrien said Monday there is no definite timeline as to when the city will hear back on it.

In 2017, a multi-million dollar deal appeared to be in place between both communities for the city to acquire more than 4,000 acres of land from Cavan Monaghan, including the lands around the airport, however, that fell through.

Earlier this year, Cavan Monaghan council voted to no longer participate in discussions regarding annexation with the City of Peterborough.

Instead, the township wanted its staff to work with the city on cross-border servicing options to support future employment in the area.

On Friday, Smith put an emphasis on the fact that both sides needed to come to terms to make any amalgamation or annexation work.

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“It’s a conversation that needs to be had at the municipal level,” said Smith.  “What we want as the province, is what’s in the best interest of the municipalities themselves.   We’ll help facilitate a deal to get done, but we need two willing partners to work on it.”

“If you look at the expansion and growth of Peterborough over the last 100 years, it’s been very piecemeal.  It’s been done in a way that they look at employment and residential lands for 20- to 25-year growth.  We need to be more bold and look at it as 100-year growth,” added Smith.

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“It has to be situation that’s win-win for all parties,” said McFadden.

“Those of us at the municipal level need to think of the repercussions of any action that we take and how it impacts our residents and our relationships with respective councils,” added Therrien.

“All cards are on the table and having those discussions which make most sense economically while maintaining good relationships.  It’s something I’m certainly committed to and I believe Mr. McFadden is committed to.”