A $28.6-million upgrade of the Peterborough Municipal Airport, which will include a 2,000-foot runway extension and realignment of Airport Rd., got off the ground yesterday with $14 million from the provincial and federal governments.
Federal and provincial representatives from Peterborough and Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes- Brock ridings lined up alongside city and county municipal politicians in a Flying Colours hangar to announce the project.
Over the next year and a half, the city will make several improvements to the airport to support an expansion of the aviation- related industrial park on the property.
The city's portion of the cost will be $14.6 million and the project must be completed by March 2011 to satisfy the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund requirements.
For Flying Colours, which is the anchor tenant at the airport, the extended runway will open up other business opportunities in the refurbishment and maintenance of planes.
"It's a big bonus for us because it will allow us to jump in with the next size and generation of aircraft," Flying Colours president John Gillespie said, adding he already has a customer base for larger aircraft.
The company employs 170 people at its Peterborough facility and 100 people at its facility in St. Louis. It opened a new 24,000-square-foot hangar and office building last year to grow to 100,000 square feet of floor space at the airport and it plans to build an additional 60,000- square-foot hangar.
The airport improvements will allow Flying Colours to plan for the future in Peterborough, Gillespie said.
"Our expansion plans will probably be totally focused on Peterborough," he said.
The extended runway will make it easier for Vector Air to take advantage of a seven-passenger Citation business jet that it will add to its fleet over the next two weeks, said Vector Air owner Blake Law.
"It's a good upgrade. It's been long overdue," he said.
Gillespie added the improvements at the airport will attract more aviation-related businesses because other airports surrounding the Greater Toronto Area aren't large enough to handle the growth.
"You're going to see the expansion come this way in related aviation business," he said.
The city hired a consulting firm, LPS Avia, to put together a business plan for the airport. The consultants found the airport produced $41 million in economic activity in the community last year. The various companies at the airport employed 422 people.
The potential $21.3-million spending on infrastructure could generate $152 million in economic activity in the region, the consultants state in a report.
At the end of April, city council unanimously approved submitting an application to the federal-provincial Building Canada Fund for a $36.86-million airport project. The cost of the project was reduced when the city switched the application to the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.
After further review by engineering consultants, the project cost estimates were reduced to $28.6 million and a final plan will be presented to council next month, senior director of corporate services Brian Horton states in a report that goes to council on Monday.
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SOURCE: BRENDAN WEDLEY , EXAMINER MUNICIPAL WRITER
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