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Airport Development

Along with the aviation services it offers, the Stanhope Municipal Airport lands also provide much opportunity for growth and commercial development. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry opened a Fire Base at the site in 2016.  

The Council of the Township of Algonquin Highlands continues to explore opportunities and new, innovative ideas for the development of the airport lands. 

View Airport Land Use Development Final Report

History, Studies and Plans

The Stanhope Municipal Airport has been owned and operated by the Township of Algonquin Highlands since its development in 1967.

Initial development of the airport consisted of a 2,680 ft (817 m) grass runway, apron and taxiways, a public building, aviation fuel facilities and hangar building for covered storage of aircraft.

Additional lands were acquired to protect runway approaches from tree growth and housing development, and to gain access for floatplanes to Maple Lake. The Township also initiated the expropriation of property to the east to protect the approach to the runway from that direction.

From 1978 to 1988 aviation, engineering, and environmental study reports were prepared in support of development of the airport to an all-weather capability with paved surfaces. In 1989, with funding support by both the federal and provincial governments, the Township implemented the construction of a 2,500 ft (762 m) paved and lighted runway, taxiway and apron area, along with other terminal area improvements, including the installation of aviation fuel facilities. Over the years, other airport development initiatives have included construction of a maintenance/operations garage, Township owned commercial hangar buildings, and the buying and selling of lands.

In 2001, the Township of Algonquin Highlands implemented a review of the airport to assess the development of a 4,000 ft (1,220 m) runway. The review came about largely because of the 1999 "County of Haliburton Economic Development Marketing Plan" that described the Stanhope airport as "one of the County's strongest opportunities for increased investment."

The marketing plan also recommended that: 

  • "Aviation related uses should continue to be strongly promoted;"
  • "The municipal lands adjacent the Stanhope Airport are one of the County's strongest opportunities to encourage 'high tech' development;" and
  • The County, along with local municipalities, "support the efforts of Stanhope to market the airport for the growth of aviation related uses."

Other reasons for the 2001 review included a 1984 Master Plan that envisioned a runway of 4,000 ft (1,220 m) in length to satisfy the intended role of the airport, for the longer term; and, because of concerns about wind conditions and to reduce the risk of accident, a location crosswind to the existing runway needed to be examined.

In 2003, the Township prepared an "Airport Development and Implementation Strategy Report" in support of development of a 4,000 ft (1,220 m) runway and related infrastructure. The report documented both recent and past airport related studies, and identified a number of reasons for support for airport development. The strategy report proposed that the province should provide most of the funding for the airport, in support of provincial essential services - the province has not yet agreed to funding assistance.

In the fall of 2005, the Township approved the preparation of a Business Vision study, which was adopted in early 2007.

In 2008, the Township held a public meeting at the Dorset Recreation Centre, which was well attended by the community.

In June 2010, a Federal screening report for the airport development was completed.  In order not to jeopardize the much needed rehabilitation of the existing runway, while the required Environmental Assessment was conducted, the Township was successful in getting the project split into two phases.  The rehabilitation was completed in 2010.

The runway project was extremely controversial, and while it enjoyed much support, it faced significant criticism.  

In the fall of 2010, a newly elected Council sought what they felt was a more viable development plan at the airport than the 4,000 foot runway for which the Township had received approval for a $2 million Build Canada Fund grant.

In 2011, formal meetings began with the Ministry of Natural Resources to discuss the relocation of the nearby Forestry Firefighting Headquarters.  Council agreed to relocate and expand its hangars to accommodate the new 20,000 square foot facility and over the next two years, plans were developed to update the design of the airport, including a new access road, new hangars, improved taxiways, and of course, the MNR facility.

In 2012, the Township received $15,000 from the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC) toward a Land Use and Development Plan, which would include a Marketing Plan for further options around the airport lands.

In July 2013, the MNR formally announced the $12.2 million project and in November of the same year, the contract between the Township and the province was formally signed.  Also in late 2013, the Township learned it was successful in acquiring high speed DSL to the airport and its anticipated Business Park through the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) project of the Eastern Ontario Warden's Caucus.

Construction of the MNR headquarters began in January 2014 and was completed in April 2016.

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