The County of Simcoe and the City of Barrie are ready to take off on construction at the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport (LSRA), with both councils recently approving the first phase of a runway expansion project.
The first phase, which would see the runway widened to address operational constraints and allow for larger and heavier aircrafts to access the airport, will come with a price tag of more than $6.5 million, and will be cost shared between the two corporations.
The county has also secured a $1.5 million provincial grant toward the project through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund.
“The plan is demand based, where expenditures will only be initiated when there is a reasonable expectation that business will be forthcoming,” wrote Mike Drumm, manager of the airport, in his report to county council.
The airport is a member of the Southern Ontario Airport Network (SOAN) which was established to grow the aerospace industry in Ontario as Toronto Pearson International Airport approaches its flight and land capacities.
“Through SOAN, the LSRA has received investment inquiries from different aerospace companies,” wrote Drumm.
Phase 1 of the expansion will also include earthworks/pavement, stormwater works, restoration work, and electrical works/upgrades.
Phases 2 and 3 were identified as being demand-based to include commercial travel. The preliminary budget summary associated with all three phases was close to $66 million.
In August of 2019, the County of Simcoe secured a deal to become the majority owner of the airport, with the County of Simcoe owning 90 per cent, and the City of Barrie retaining 10 per cent. As of January 1, 2020, the deal was officially in place.
Therefore, the County of Simcoe will be responsible for about $4,368,500 of the cost of Phase 1 which will be paid out of the county's economic development reserve, with the City of Barrie responsible for $482,250, which will be paid out of the city’s airport infrastructure reserve account.
There will also be contingencies put in place to the tune of $1,751,510, which will also be cost-shared.
According to the staff report, the runway widening project is shovel-ready and can be implemented immediately.
Construction will begin by the end of 2020 and is anticipated to conclude by summer 2021.