Yorkton Council has chosen to take full responsibility for the Yorkton Airport Authority (YAA).
The Authority, which acts as a committee of Council to make recommendations on the airport, and to mange the municipally-owned facility, has been made up of people from the community, along with a Council representative, as appointed by the Mayor.
This year, the Authority has a decidedly different look as all members of Yorkton Council and no members of the public were appointed.
Mayor Bob Maloney said the move was made after a “couple of issues came to Council” involving the airport, one being a lack of interest from the Authority to continue to have the annual Kambusters Car Club drag races at the airport.
Representatives of the Car Club appeared before Council Nov. 4, 2013 regarding the issue.
Kambusters president Frank Pohozoff said the club “celebrated 10 years of drag racing in Yorkton” this summer, and are operating under a contract with the YAA and the City which is “coming due in 2015.”
In order to facilitate planning down the road, Pohozoff said his Club approached the YAA regarding a new contract.
“They (the YAA) forwarded a letter to us,” he told Council. “In the letter they stated they do not want to re-sign a lease.
At the meeting, to facilitate a contract happening, Mayor Bob Maloney suggested referring the matter to City Administration with the understanding he and City Manager David Putz would be in contact with the YAA to help “things move forward.”
Maloney said Council also recognized the City was the major source of funds for the airport handled through the YAA.
“We’ve invested $600-$700,000 out there the last three years,” he said.
As the funding agency, and with some concerns arising, Maloney said Council decided to take the reins.
“As a Council we felt we needed to have more control over what was going on,” he said.
Maloney did take the time to thank members of the volunteer committee for their past efforts, but reiterated “Council wants to be more directly involved” to ensure “we move in the direction we’d like to see.”
The past YAA made strides, said the Mayor, adding “we want to make sure we continue to move in the direction we want to be going. We felt we needed to be more hands-on in that process.”
Asked if Council has the background regarding aviation needs to operate the YAA, Maloney said he was confident they do, or have access to expertise when needed.
“We’ve got experienced staff that has learned a lot about airports the last while,” he said, adding they will still be listening to airport users.
“We have a pretty good record of listening to people bringing concerns to us,” he offered.
So what is the vision Council has for the airport?
“Continued growth,” suggested Maloney.
As an example the airport has unused land which could be developed by business if it fits with the general purpose of an airport, said Maloney.
“We’d like to see more commercial development,” he said, adding to make the best sense it would need to be “airport-related stuff.”
At some point growth could mean scheduled passenger service too, but after having Perimeter Aviation out of Winnipeg looking at the city, but not taking the step to offer service, “it doesn’t look like scheduled service is imminent,” said Maloney.