By Chad Ingram
Published Aug. 24 2016
Years of work came to official fruitionWednesday Aug. 24 with an opening ceremony for the new Ministry ofNatural Resources and Forestry fire response base at the StanhopeAirport.
Some 60 MNRF staff who work from thebuilding actually moved into the $12-million 17000-square -footfacility in April.
Many of them had previously worked atthe fire response base in Haliburton Village but the new buildingputs all area MNRF fire response employees under one roof.
“We've made some investments withtime resources and money not only in preparing this site for thisfacility but also in viable and useful growth at the airport”Algonquin Highlands Reeve and County Warden Carol Moffatt told acrowd that included numerous MNRF fire rangers.
During the last council term AlgonquinHighlands council was able to successfully have Building Canada Fundmoney that had been approved for an unpopular runway projectadvocated by the previous council redirected to the MNRF project.
Moffatt had been the lone member of the2006-10 Algonquin Highlands council to oppose the runway projectbecoming reeve in the 2010 election.
The Building Canada Fund approval wasfor a project of up to $3.5 million to be split three ways betweenthe feds provincial government and township.
As part of its agreement with theprovince Algonquin Highlands performed preparatory work at the basesite including the clearing of six hectares of trees and constructionof new taxiways and also completed upgrades at the airport itself.
“And it's working.” Moffatt said.“As you folks know we have a suite of new fabulous and fullyleased-out hangars public wi-fi new food services . . . Thepartnership with the province will provide guaranteed income for atleast 20 years that's what we signed up for and we know thatrevenue will be a springboard for future services.”
The reeve stressed there is plenty ofproperty still available at the airport for future development.
“If the Infrastructure Ontario peopleare listening we have land available” Moffatt said. “We hopethat will be a springboard for development here at the airport thatis clean useful and quiet.”
Algonquin Highlands council has haddiscussions about constructing some kind of solar-power facility atthe airport.
Moffatt thanked those involved in theproject public conversations about which have been happening since2011.
“Lots of discussions lots ofnegotiations a few headaches here and there but at the end of itI'm proud to say that we came through all those discussions and it'swhat I would consider a true partnership to have you guys have a newhome here at the airport” she said.
Ajax-Pickering MPP Joe Dicksonparliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources andForestry brought greetings on behalf on the province.
“It's a great investment and it'sgoing to grow in the community” Dickson said. “The work thateveryone does here is so important. Right across the vast provinceministry fire fighters protect our communities from forest fires andit's a job our people do very very well.”
According to Dickson since 2003/04MNRF fire rangers have brought 94 per cent of forest fires undercontrol or held at a size of less than four hectares by noon theday following the report of the fires.
“That takes a good system a goodstrategy and quite frankly just look around here and you'll agreewith me that it takes a great team” he said.
Algonquin Highlands fire chief MikeCavanagh also welcomed the MNRF to the township.
“I just want to say on behalf ofAlgonquin Highlands fire services we want to congratulate you guyson your new building” Cavanagh said. “The Algonquin Highlandsfire services as well as the fire services across Haliburton Countyhave a great relationship with you guys here at the MNRF fire groupand we're happy to have you in Algonquin Highlands and we lookforward to building our relationship.”
The ceremony concluded with aribbon-cutting and was followed by tours of the facility.