As always there’s never a dull moment with the goings on at PAC as we continue to navigate around snap lockdowns, flying operations, VCAT and our club improvement programmes.
As we continue to live with the effects of snap lockdowns and restrictions during COVID, I must congratulate the staff and members for their understanding and compliance with the rules.
To some extent, we seem to have fallen into a pattern of understanding and have good plans in place to shut down efficiently and safely and then quickly show our agility to restart and get back to work. We owe a lot of this good planning to our Ops Manage Kellie and our HOO Gerard.
Nevertheless, it’s hard on everyone and no-one more than the instructors with both personal and financial disruption to their lives. Please keep this in mind when making a booking make sure you keep the booking as late cancellations can often hit the pockets of the instructors.
Our new club hangars have started to fill with aircraft which is pleasing to finally see happen. We decided to have the floors painted, whilst an expensive exercise, it finishes off what are a set of very well constructed hangars that will serve the club well into the future. There are a few spots left so do not hesitate to enquire if you are looking for to house your pride and joy in a safe location out of the weather.
You will also notice the tractor shed has been completed, which has allowed us to move our tractors and grass management gear over to the new shed. This will not only protect our very expensive equipment but free up a much needed hangar spot for a member.
We need to thank Peter Cutting for managing the building development projects which he has been doing for PAC over many years.
New Committee Member
Ilona Patient has come onto the Committee as Assistant Treasurer. Ilona has a background in accounting and runs a successful bookkeeping business and therefore brings a wealth of accounting knowledge. Ilona has already successfully introduced Xero accounting systems to the club, from our previous software, as we look to invest in new management and flight booking platforms.
Many of you will have seen the Shire’s press release on their website and other publications about them welcoming PAC’s application to VCAT. As previously stated, PAC is seeking a declaration as to our permits as well as recognition of our existing use rights, thereby acknowledging all of our airport operations being lawful by virtue of the fact that we have been operating as an airport for almost 60 years.
Friday 13th Aug is the day that the Shire must provide their Statement of Grounds, which will give us insight into their alignment, or otherwise, to our declaration application.
Please be aware that Friday the 13th August is your last day to make your own application or simply write a letter to VCAT stating that you are in support of PAC’s application.
There are 3 options to make a submission to VCAT in support of PAC:
1 Make a full submission with a Statement of Grounds where you can take part in the hearing;
2 make a statement of grounds without opting to take part in the hearing; or
3 write to the tribunal simply stating your thoughts and support for PAC’s application for a Declaration on our permits.
We also received good news that the Shire has written to the Minister and withdrawn the application to amend the current zoning use of the airport. Furthermore the Minister has approved, and now made law, a correction to the typo that was in our planning scheme, which now makes airport operations a permittable use. This withdrawal, and more importantly, the correction to the Planning Scheme effectively ends the Shire’s arguments of the original dispute and the cause of stop work notices, albeit we say were never based in supportive fact or law.
Some more good news recently, is the Shire has granted PAC’s a 5 years unconditional secondary consent in allowing emergency aircraft to use the airport. Furthermore we have been granted 5 year Secondary Consent approval to run an airshow without the need for any additional permits other than a Place of Public Entertainment, which has always been acceptable to PAC. This is a good outcome for the club and I thank Cr Mercurio and the CEO (John Baker) for advocating this successful outcome.
Lastly on VCAT matters, we have yet to hear from the Tribunal about our costs claim against the Shire for their withdrawal of their enforcement application, hopefully this will be resolved over the next few months. We are still waiting on a decision regarding the Lifestyle Village which was heard more than 3 months ago.
The Flying Café
Over the past few weeks we have been trialling a mobile food van in our carpark, which appears to have been a fantastic success for members, the community and the owners of the cafe. The café owners tell me they will be running monthly specials on different fillings along with their pulled pork rolls and other popular yummy eats. I reckon when summer comes around, we’ll see this becoming a popular spot for many. Personally, I have to say their coffee is fabulous and I look forward to escaping after lockdown and heading down for a coffee with everyone.
Many of you will already be aware we have decided not to run the 2022 airshow owing to the impacts of COVID. It was becoming apparent the many requirements to comply with a State COVID plan were becoming beyond our capabilities and would require significant costs, which would eat into the funds we would have available for charities. Of equal concern, was that any potential of a COVID lockdown either in Victoria or even NSW, where we rely upon many of our aircraft and pilots, would result in a financial disaster for PAC.
However we are still committed to helping our community with a charity event and are looking to run a couple of smaller open day events during 2022. I have spoken with all of our key sponsors and they are in complete alignment and have committed to remain onboard with us to support smaller, lower risk events.