Underfunded from the start, Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour 2017 leaves contractors holding the bag – North

The 2017 Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour delivered on more than 60 of an anticipated 97 air shows and community events across Northern Canada last summer before tour organizer Nancy McClure had to pull the plug on the season saying the tour had run out of money.

But at no point did the tour ever have the financial backing it needed to deliver on its ambitious promise, and it left many with unpaid invoices instead of paycheques for a tour that some believed had federal backing.

Now, McClure, the executive director of the tour, is hoping those who are owed money will remain patient as she works to raise money needed to pay off debts from last summer’s show — and continue with the remainder of the show this summer.

In an email to CBC, McClure said the air show needs approximately $2.6 million to “pay all bills and finish the tour in 2018.”

She declined to specify how much is owed from last year’s performances apart from what is needed to continue, or to whom it’s owed specifically. She also declined to say how much operating capital the tour had when it got underway last summer.

McClure told CBC in an email there are about 15 accounts payable, including money owed to tour organizers and volunteers who lent money to the organization to help keep the show in the air.

She said it wasn’t until July that she realized she wouldn’t be able to pay participants in the tour.

Performers in formation fly by the community of Ndilo near Yellowknife. The Yellowknife stop for the Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour 2017 was the last after hoped-for funding never materialized. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Some thought federal funding in place

But the experience of Susan Close, a Vancouver-based education consultant and retired school board administrator, shows the tour apparently didn’t have the money to pay its bills well before any flights got of the ground.

Close was contracted by McClure on behalf of the tour to develop the Wings Across the North Literacy Legacy project, with a $25,000 letter of agreement dated Dec.17, 2016. The agreement was to serve as a retainer for Close’s services and was signed by Close and McClure with a cheque expected to arrive later in the mail.

“And then the cheque didn’t come,” Close said

Some thought the Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour 2017 either had federal backing or was near to it, but in reality there was no federal funding.

Close said she still chose to arrange a January meeting in Sidney, B.C., with several of…

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