Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport project tenders come in substantially over budget

Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport

GORE BAY—The Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport partner municipalities (Gore Bay, Gordon/Barrie Island and Burpee and Mills) will be looking at how part of the major rehabilitation, renovation and upgrade work costs planned for the airport can be reduced or reworked. As well, the airport partners will be approaching government funding sources that have provided funds for the project in hopes of lobbying for more financial support of the project. This comes after the airport partners received the construction tenders for the work (at a meeting last week), that came in substantially higher than had been anticipated.

“Unbelievable,” stated Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne on Friday morning. “Basically, the tenders came in two times more than we had anticipated, at $8.2 million for the construction costs. They are ridiculously high.”

“We (airport partners) met our engineers (Exp.) last night to look at the tenders and discuss all of this,” said Mayor Osborne, who pointed out three tenders had been received. “We had three bids come back for the construction, one for the runway work and associated work plans involved with that, one tender for the terminal building expansion itself and one for the entire project.” He pointed out that basically the tenders for the terminal building came in at approximately $5.5-5.6 million and approximately $2.630 million for the runway expansion work as well as new lighting, a new helipad and expansion of the apron where planes fuelup.”

“We are doing all that we can to whittle down the costs to something that we can actually handle,” said Mayor Osborne. “But we will be getting in touch with the ministries’ involved in the portfolios (which have provided funding previously) directly. We had been told previously by the government funders that there was no extra funding available, but the governments know how difficult the economy is, how costs for everything have and the difficulties with the pandemic. We will approach the ministers and see if there is any more money in the pot that they can provide. If we are not able to do this project, it will not look good for the governments. We know that COVID was not their doing but otherwise, it won’t reflect well on the federal and provincial governments.”

Mayor Osborne pointed out as part of the project, the construction was to provide safety, emergency and green energy improvements. “If we’re not able to go ahead with the new helipad, for instance, this would be one example as this is a safety factor.”

Mayor Osborne said, “we will also be meeting with the contract firm that bid on the runway work on where savings can be made,” noting that the bid on this work was also, by itself, double what had been anticipated.

“And, we are weighing all our options for the new terminal building,” continued Mayor Osborne. “And we are going to readdress how we could retender for construction next spring.”

“There is no way the municipalities can carry on the burden and debt of these higher costs,” stated Mayor Osborne. “But we can’t just mothball the project, either. We have to figure out how we can go ahead with the project, but obviously we can’t at this price.”

“We will be meeting with our engineers to look at the costs before next week to look at what we can do,” said Mayor Osborne. “We will push forward, but it is a lot of money. And we had already shaved costs and some of the work on the terminal building. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s close to the edge. We’ll get this figured out somehow.”  

As has been previously reported, with increases in construction cost and materials over the past couple of years, the airport partners had scaled back the project already. With the $4.2 million project, the federal and provincial governments provided $3,966,497 for the project while the Western Manitoulin municipalities of Gore Bay, Gordon/Barrie Island and Burpee and Mills will together contribute $282,473.

In July 2020, the federal government announced it was providing funding of $3,966,497 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.