Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport upgrades approved


GORE BAY—Final approval has been provided by government funding agencies for the major rehabilitation, renovation and upgrade work project at the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport.

“When do you expect that construction tenders will be able to go out and the project can move forward?” asked Gore Bay Councillor Kevin Woestenenk at a council meeting last week.

“Spring is what we are hoping for, to start construction,” said Mayor Dan Osborne.

At the meeting, council passed a bylaw authorizing the passing of an agreement between His Majesty the King in Right of Ontario (as represented by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) and the Corporation of the Town of Gore Bay for the purpose of a transfer payment agreement for investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP): Rural and Northern Stream.

The project will upgrade the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport and will include the construction of a new air terminal building and an approximately 71.5 square metre helipad. Project work will also include an upgrade of the field electrical centre, the installation of airfield lighting and emergency power systems and enhanced security and wildlife fencing.

The amendment to the agreement is for the secondary runway being dropped from the original proposal for the renovation project.

“We now have an agreement signed by the government,” said Mayor Osborne after council gave its approval. “It is our intention to get started on construction in the spring. Tonight the airport partners will proceed in looking at how we are going to go to tender on the project.”

Mayor Osborne had outlined recently, “what we are doing, in order to change the scope of the work being planned but not the funding that has already been provided, is put out an application to the project funders with our proposed changes.” He is a member of the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport partner municipalities (which incudes Gore Bay, Gordon/Barrie Island and Burpee and Mills).

Mayor Osborne explained, “under the original project plan the secondary runway was a want, not a need. The main focus of the project was the new terminal building itself, the helipad and the generator infrastructure. The helipad will be used to provide services in emergency situations. What we are doing is eliminating the secondary runway work and proceeding with the other parts of the proposed project.”

This comes after the airport partners received the construction tenders for the work (earlier this summer) that came in substantially higher than had been anticipated.

The tenders came in two times more than we had anticipated, at $8.2 million for the construction costs, Mayor Osborne explained previously.

As previously reported, with increases in construction cost and materials over the past couple of years, the airport partners 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 contributed $282,473.

Mayor Osborne told The Expositor after an airport partner meeting last week, “we will be getting the tenders out for construction in January for companies to bid on and obviously construction won’t be able to take place until the spring, as weather allows us. We have also tasked our engineering team to look at possible cost savings. I’m sure we can get this shaved down to where it comes within budget.”

“We told Chris Perry (engineer) the bids had come in at $1,000 square foot, and he said he never saw those costs that high before,” said Mayor Osborne. “Originally, we had planned for $450 per square foot on the building. Then COVID hit and in discussions and planning on construction we thought this might increase to $650, and then the tenders came in at $1,000 per square foot.”

“We are looking to save taxpayers money, but yes, it will definitely be a very nice airport terminal building. Will it be the showpiece that had originally been envisioned? Probably not quite. But it boils down to what we need and want, and what we can afford. The terminal and other work will definitely be a step up, and make the airport an even more popular place to come to. We are moving forward.”