Pilot looking to save Carp Airport runway

CARP – West Capital Developments is looking to close one of two runways at the Carp Airport, but one pilot says that is a breach of the current agreement with the city and is looking to save the strip.

On April 3, pilot and Carp Airport tenant Michael Wilson received a letter from the airport property owners.

It stated the landlords want to close the 3,000-foot gravel runway at the airport.

“In view of the limited use, resources and operating costs to keep and maintain runway 04/22, West Capital Developments is in the process of permanently decommissioning the runway,” Carp Airport manager Pat Fagnano wrote in a letter to tenants. “With the runway closure, the airport will be in a better position to use capital resources for airfield improvements including the development of additional hangars.”

The Fixed Base Operator building, which provides the airport terminal, aircraft maintenance, fueling, public bathrooms and other airport services is also up for sale. The airport has two runways. Along with the gravel runway, there is a 4,000-foot asphalt runway.

The letter suggested tenants “feel free to submit your thoughts and or concerns by email no later than April 30.”

Wilson has done that, and a bit more. Wilson lives in Nepean but calls the Carp Airport his home base where he and some partners rent a hangar and split ownership of a Cessna airplane. He says the secondary runway is an important part of the facility, closing it breaks the agreement the landlords have with the City of Ottawa and has created a petition to save the landing strip.

The city and West Capital Developments (WCD) signed an agreement May 31, 2004, for the purchase of the 967-acre airport by WCD.

Under the provisions of the option agreement, WCD can only exercise its option and acquire the airport if WCD executes a municipal capital facility agreement with the city to ensure the planning, development, management and operation of the airport remains consistent with city objectives as follows:

  • Ensure the proposed development will be compatible with the city’s planning policies, and compatible with the Community Plans for the Carp Village and Carp Road Corridor;
  • Require WCD to fully fund all approval and development costs associated with implementing the modified business plan;
  • Eliminate any financial risk for the city; and
  • Ensure the existing airport operations and tenancies will not be adversely affected should the WCD business plan not be fully implemented for whatever reason.

To see the entire agreement between WCD and the city, click here.

“They (WCD) built the building (terminal) 15 years ago, now they’re changing the rules,” Wilson told West Carleton Online yesterday (April 7). “This is all leading to the close down of the airport or extremely limited use. The agreement should be honoured.”

Both Mayor Jim Watson and Coun. Eli El-Chantiry said they were unaware of the decommissioning of the runway until this week.

Wilson understands businesses need to make money in order to operate and has no issues with the current agreement, “but the footprint of the airport needs to be maintained.”

There are roughly 75 hangars at the Carp Airport, either owned or rented by people who use the airport’s amenities.

“They all put money out there for an airport,” Wilson said.

Wilson describes himself as a pilot who flies in and out of the Carp Airport regularly putting roughly 150 hours in the air each year. He and his airplane ownership group have been renting a hangar at the airport since 2013. The airport is a community hub for enthusiasts and is a busy spot during the summer. On top of the stories listed in the link, the Carp Airport is heavily used by flight schools from Gatineau, Ottawa, Arnprior and surrounding areas for students to practice touch and go and stop and go landings. It is also used by low, mid and high time pilots and having access to a runway in the busy flying season, the summer months, that can accommodate landing away from a cross wind is an extra level of safety for everyone using the airport. It also allows all pilots around the area to practice skills that are not required on a 4,000-foot paved runway, an added plus for new pilots.

“It absolutely is a community hub,” Wilson said. “I’m sure there are people who live near by who don’t like the airport, but it was here when they bought their home.”

Wilson thinks the runway closure is to help pave the way for the sale of some land for further development.

“They’re very vague, but there is a parcel of land at the end of the runway that a developer has shown interest in,” Wilson said. “Something that was agreed to is being changed. They made a deal 15 years ago and now they want to sell off the land.”

Wilson has created a petition against the closure of the runway to build momentum.

“We want them to continue to honour the agreement and keep that gravel runway,” Wilson said. “If they paved the gravel runway, put lights on it, that would increase the value.”

Wilson says opponents have until the end of the month to send in their comments and he hopes to be able to get the city, the airport owners and those who use it together before any decisions are final.

“We want to get the city behind it and apply enough force to have a sit-down meeting,” Wilson said. “The fact the city didn’t know about it is concerning. The agreement is with them. Hopefully we can get a head of it a bit and shine a little light on it. Once it’s shut down, it’s never coming back.”