Despite cuts, Gore Bay Airport project still well over budget

File photo

WESTERN MANITOULIN—Having already reduced costs surrounding the proposed new Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport expansion and renovation project, specifically the runway project, and still being approximately $600,000 over budget, airport partner municipalities (Gore Bay, Gordon/Barrie Island and Burpee and Mills) have decided to take some time to contact project funding sources and government representatives, while deciding what next to do in the overall project plan.

The airport partners “all agreed that the extra project funding needs to be cut and that we investigate with our government funding partners to see if more funding can be provided. And we also agree that the terminal building along with the helipad part of the project is the priority right now,” said Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne.

The three airport partners met last week. “We have the runway work and associated work plans involved down to approximately $1.6 million, which is still about $600,000 more than we had budgeted for,” said Mayor Osborne. “And that is only for the runway project.”

“We discussed this at our meeting last night (August 10),” said Mayor Osborne. “None of the parties want to have their municipality put more funds into the project. Gordon/Barrie Island council held a meeting the previous night and they don’t want to put up another $300,000, they would have the biggest share of the costs based on assessment. To go with what is being estimated right now it would mean an extra $150,000 cost for the town of Gore Bay and Burpee and Mills and neither of our municipalities are in favour of paying these extra costs either.”

“So, we decided to take the next few weeks to contact our government funders to see if more funding can be provided or a portion of the proposed runway project can be reduced and the funding then be used on the terminal building,” said Mayor Osborne. “In about 30 days we will let Pioneer Construction, which had the winning tender for the runway project in 2019 prior to costs of materials having increased significantly, if we are going ahead with this portion of the project. The project isn’t dead in the water, but we are looking at changing the way it takes place.”

“When the project was started originally, the terminal building was always the priority,” continued Mayor Osborne. “Then additional funding was made available, and it allowed us to look at what we want as well as what is needed.” However, “the runway expansion is not an absolute need, there is a large enough runway now to land planes of many size.”

Mayor Osborne pointed out a $150,000 increase to Gore Bay taxpayers would mean probably about a five percent increase in taxes.

As has been previously reported, with an increase in construction costs and materials over the past couple of years, the airport partners had already worked on scaling back the project. With the $4.2 million project, the federal and provincial governments provided $3,966,497 for the project while the three partnering municipalities had together contributed $282,473.

In July 2020, the federal government announced it was providing the funding of $3.9 million toward the rehabilitation of the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport, including a new air terminal, helipad, expansion of the secondary runway and enhancements to security and wildlife fencing.