Future of Goderich, Ont. airport up for debate
GODERICH, ONT. -- Goderich’s airport runs a deficit each year, and is chronically under utilized. It has some in the community questioning the future of the airport, but not the mayor.
“It’s important that we zero in on this now, before it gets away from us. Once you lose an airport and don’t build that asset, you lose it forever,” says Goderich Mayor John Grace.
But, Goderich’s airport hasn’t been the same since Sky Harbour Aircraft closed its doors ten years ago, taking 100 aviation jobs with it.
Brian Barnim bought Sky Harbour’s two hangars in 2016 and 2018. He’s tried to attract another aviation related business to the unused hangars, with no luck.
“We have solicited many aviation related companies to look at locating here, but they mostly want to be in a larger centre, and if they do come, they’re looking for some sort of subsidy to do so,” says Barnim.
Barnim has applied to have the hangars rezoned as light industrial, to allow non-aviation related businesses to set up shop. He says he’s got interested companies, but Goderich won’t allow the re-zoning, holding out hope, aviation companies will return.
“It just brings aviation and aircraft and an identity to an airport, when you have related industry attached to it, or on it’s apron. It just makes sense,” says Grace.
“It’s time to re-purpose the building and allow other industry or business here that will create jobs. It’s better than the building’s falling into disrepair,” says Barnim.
Goderich, Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, and Huron County are currently taking part in of a task force trying to decide the future of Goderich’s airport, and with it, probably the future of the former Skyharbour Aircraft hangars, as well.
“The need for an airport will become greater and greater. As the economy changes, as people’s needs and convenience and travel, changes. We’ve seen it during COVID, and that’s only going to grow,” says Grace.
“Like an arena, an airport is an asset that runs a deficit. It’s an asset you don’t want to lose, but it’s an asset that costs a lot of money to maintain,” says Barnim.