To the Expositor:
As the owner of what could be considered a seasonal business on Manitoulin Island, I sympathize with the mayor and councillor Gauthier on the subject of closing the airport for five months a year (‘Northeast Town mayor suggests, Assiginack reeve strongly opposes winter closure of 10 Mile Pt. airport,’ January 25, page 1).
This is a hard decision for all to make. There are also the considerations of those currently employed, the costs associated with the opening and closing of the site and the cost of retraining key personnel after they leave your employ because they have mouths to feed. Having struggled with the same battles trying to decide whether to stay open or close, I decided to stay open year round. Yes, it is tough. Perhaps instead of looking at the costs it would save, which may also contribute to lost revenue, as Mr. Dobbs (airport manager) pointed out, the towns could work together to explore income sources that would bring the airport to a break-even position or hopefully, a profit.
There is not one mention in the Expositor article of efforts to generate income during these months. Are there not people employed at the airport that could perhaps have some of their time diverted to explore sources of income? Do they not have a stake in this also? Could you have snowmobile drag races down the strip? Could you not have a winter fly-in, generating gas sales and tie it in with the snowmobile races in Manitowaning? This would also bring needed business to people in that town. It’s too easy to just say, “close it down.” The COPA (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association) guide to public airports listed many revenue generating ideas when I did a search for “winter sources of revenue for small airports,” granted, some of them are not possible at Manitoulin East.
I personally think the airport is a bit of a white elephant, but it’s there and it has to be dealt with, so why not turn to the possibilities and not take the easy way out? My father once told me, “you can sit and wait for it to happen or you can get up and make it happen.” I encourage both councils to consider those you do employ and those you represent to think of the possibilities and make it happen.
Phil Blake, owner
3 Cows and a Cone