Business potential at Lake Simcoe Regional Airport include ‘significant, employment’ opportunities

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Barrie’s general committee is awaiting a staff report on investment opportunities at the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport, following a direct motion by Ward 4 councillor Barry Ward.
The report is to include cost-sharing among the airport’s shareholders, as well as identifying appropriate funding sources such as opportunities for financial support from other levels of government.
Last summer, June 18 to be exact, council passed a motion that supported the airport’s strategic plan and committed staff to review the (plan) and “report back … on the business case and recommendations for funding alternatives including opportunities to work with our airport partners to obtain infrastructure funding from other levels of government.”
The plan is a three-phase approach. The first phase focuses on developing infrastructure to “position the airport to enhance corporate aviation and MRO (Maintenance, Repair, Operations) business,” according to a memo to council from Stephanie Schlichter, director of business development.
The other two phases “were identified as a future state that would be demand-based and expand airport users to include commercial travel.” 
Improvements under phase one included extending the runway from 6,000 to 7,000 feet, and widening it from 100 to 150 feet. The first phase is estimated to cost $27.5 million.
Staff in the finance department and Invest Barrie have been reviewing the strategic plan and are waiting for an Economic Impact Study before finishing an analysis of the business case. The study, according to the memo, is expected this spring.
The airport, reads the memo, has had “several investment inquiries in both MRO and manufacturing-type industries, seeking land to expand and/or relocate their businesses to the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport,” specifically relating to the “development of the Northeast Commercial Area of the airport, which is currently unserviced, raw land.”
The opportunities include the airport being short-listed by “two substantial airport users for the expansion/relocation of their business operations. The opportunities present significant, quality employment and investment that would benefit the entire area. Timing for the projects ranged from 12 to 24 months for decision and implementation,” reads the memo.
The expansion of the runway was identified as a requirement by three of four investment leads.
“Further, given the projected employment of the users, a water/wastewater servicing solution would also be critical.” Studies are currently underway on these investment needs, and are expected to be completed in the next 30-60 days.
The airport’s board has adopted a motion calling on shareholders, including Barrie, to consider the investments needed to fund servicing and the expansions outlined in the strategic plan.
“To facilitate this request, and to provide options for accelerating the work, it is proposed that staff from the shareholder organizations jointly review the required work and determine cost-sharing and appropriate funding sources, and report back to Council with a financing model prior to the July recess,” reads the report.

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