Frank Klees

Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                                  April 6, 2009

  

Klees Calls on Province to Step in to Save Regional Airport

(Queen’s Park) Newmarket-Aurora MPP and PC Leadership Candidate Frank Klees today called on the provincial government to put up the $1.5 million needed to ensure that the Buttonville Airport in York Region continues to operate.

Following a decision by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority to cancel its capacity maintenance agreement with the regional airport - a loss of $1.5 million -  the airport's management announced they would have no choice but to shut down the airport's operations.

"If the federal government refuses to ensure that this airport stays operational, then the provincial government should step in for economic development reasons," said Klees. "While the federal and provincial ministers debate whose jurisdiction this is, we risk losing 300 direct jobs and more than $80 million of economic benefit to the GTA. That makes no sense. "

Klees made the point that if the federal and provincial ministries of transport couldn't come to terms with the issue, then the McGuinty government’s Minister of Economic Development has a responsibility to show leadership on the issue.

"How can the McGuinty government stand by and watch 300 jobs and $80 million of economic benefit lost over an investment of $1.5 million?" said Klees. "At a time when this government is announcing billions in infrastructure projects to stimulate job creation and economic activity, this should be no more than a five minute discussion."

"This is just one more example of a lack of leadership and misplaced priorities.  In my way of thinking, investing $1.5 million to ensure the viability of a regional airport that serves thousands of businesses and is a magnet for economic development in the GTA just makes good sense," said Klees.

  • Hansard of Frank Klees’ exchange with the Minister in the Legislature follows

 

Hansard, April 6, 2009

Buttonville airport

 

Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. On February 26, my colleague from Thornhill put the question to the minister about the impending closing of the Buttonville airport as the result of the loss of some $1.5 million of support from the GTA. At that time, the minister stated very clearly that he believed that that airport is critical to the local economy as well as the economy of the GTA. He undertook to contact the federal Minister of Transport to see if he could at that time get support for the airport.

I would like to know from the minister, has he heard back from the Minister of Transport for the federal government? Is there going to be support for the Buttonville airport?

Hon. James J. Bradley: The member raises a very good question, of concern to all the members who particularly represent the area north of Toronto, including Michael Chan, my colleague; Mr. Shurman, who asked the question in the House; and the member directing the question to me.

Buttonville airport, in my opinion, plays a significant role as an airport for a lot of different reasons, one of them being a backup as well to the main airport, Pearson International Airport. I was disappointed, although they make their decisions for various reasons, to see that this had happened.

I did communicate with the federal minister about it by letter to John Baird, who, I would think, is equally concerned about that potential closing. I have not, to this point in time, received—or I have not seen—a letter of reply from him yet, but I know that he does have that concern, and I look forward with anticipation to his—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: I would like to direct my supplementary to the Minister of Economic Development. The reason I wanted to speak to the Minister of Economic Development is that the implication of this airport closing is the loss of some 300 direct jobs and a loss of some $80 million directly in that local economy, at a time when the government is investing billions of dollars in infrastructure to stimulate economy, at a time when the economic development ministry is investing millions of dollars to save jobs and create jobs.

Regardless of whether the federal government is decisive on this, will at least the Ontario government, through the Ministry of Economic Development, be prepared to invest the $1.5 million to save 300 jobs and to save some $80 million worth of the economic enterprise in the—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Minister?

Hon. James J. Bradley: I cannot speak for the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, but no doubt the question is heard and will be in Hansard, and he will deliberate upon it.

Airports are the primary responsibility of the federal government. I think it’s the hope of everyone in the Legislature that the federal government will see fit to investigate this matter appropriately, and if there’s funding to be required or pressure to be applied, the federal government will do so. I can assure the member that those of us who are part of the Ontario government—and, certainly, I speak for the Minister of Economic Development and Trade—are interested in seeing that airport continue.

As soon as we get a response from the federal government, we’ll be in a better position to make decisions subsequent to that. I am optimistic that the federal government will respond positively and that Buttonville, as a result, will stay open.