Stratford Airport Study enters Community Engagement Phase

  • Council   Friday, January 13, 2023   Stewart Grant

Ben Crooks of HM Aero Aviation Consulting appeared at the Stratford City Council meeting on January 9th to provide a mid-project progress report for the Stratford Municipal Airport Study which began in October and is scheduled for completion this spring.

HM Aero, a team of five airport professionals based in Ottawa, was chosen by the City of Stratford to carry out a review of the Stratford Municipal Airport (“SMA”), specifically on whether the airport can be financially sustainable.

At present, Crooks referenced that the operations of SMA were a net cost to the City of $185,000 during the 2022 year, and projected to be a net expense of $167,000 in 2023. 

 “What we’re trying to ask with the study is, ‘is the City getting a good return on its investment and its operating costs based on the economic role that the airport serves, based on the social benefits realized by residents of Stratford and surrounding region, and spinoffs that come from its availability and operation. The following question is, ‘are there opportunities to increase its operating revenues and control its costs to make it a financial self-sustaining asset,’ Crooks said.

Crooks added that his firm has undergone similar reviews of airports of this small size in places such as Owen Sound, Wiarton, Wingham and Cornwall. “By no means is this an uncommon question in the airport sector nowadays,” he said.

The HM Aero team has been conducting an “Existing Conditions Review” which has included extensive stakeholder engagement interviews. In total 23 individuals representing 18 different stakeholder organizations have been interviewed, including government organizations (City of Stratford, Township of Perth East, Perth County), airport users (Stratford Air Services, Elms Aviation, Ornge, Ontario Provincial Police, Hydro One, Royal Canadian Air Force – 424 Squadron, Perth County Flying Club), and regional stakeholders (InvestStratford, Destination Stratford, Stratford Festival, Stratford General Hospital, Perth County Paramedic Service, 19 Stratford Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, SW Ontario Transportation Task Force, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics)

The next phase of the study focuses on Community Engagement, and this will be launched on January 16th and available until February 10th with an online portal for project information through Engage Stratford. 

Next month, HM Aero looks to complete its Financial Sustainability Analysis of SMA, including a 20-year pro forma. March is slotted for Future Strategy Identification, while Study Completion and Presentation to Council is projected for April/May with actionable and pragmatic recommendations.