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Airport development plans reviewed.

Broadening its economic development opportunities and opening up new air routes are among some of the initiatives ongoing at the Timmins airport.

Since the municipality took control of the facility in October 1999, the city has been inviting proposals for the airport's surplus land for any industrial and commercial developments that might benefit the entire region.

Last summer, the city wrapped up a study to determine what development potential exists at the facility, situated 11 km north of the city's downtown.

Although airport manager Harley Nikkel is reluctant to discuss what avenues they're pursuing, he acknowledges they're receptive to any light industrial opportunities regardless of whether or not they are related to aviation.

"We'd evaluate and consider any proposal brought forward," Nikkel says.

The study conducted by consultants LPS Aviation Inc. of Nepean went on a fact-finding mission last year examining the airport's regional market to identify lands best suited for development and forecast growth areas in air carrier service. From the study they came up with about 60 different development opportunities which are still under examination, he adds.

Available for leasing is 177 acres of undeveloped bushlot at the airport with about a kilometre of highway frontage. The city purchased two pieces of property last year adjacent to the airport and are expected to close another deal by late March to acquire an additional 166 acres from the Ministry of Natural Resources, says Grant Chevrette, Timmins' chief administrative officer.

A hydrology servicing study on one of the parcels to determine the amount of water available for a well-water system and the capability of the ground to handle a septic system was finished last month.

"It has costs to what the alternatives are, but we can develop there," Chevrette says.

Timmins is also one of four cities - including Sudbury, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie - making a pitch to land WestJet Airlines to the area.

The successful no-frills airline is interested in establishing a presence in northeastern Ontario and plans to be flying out of the region by year's end. The Calgary-based carrier uses Hamilton as its Ontario hub to connect to Calgary, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Ottawa and Moneton.

"We've been in correspondence with WestJet, exchanging numbers and data, but the decision is up to them," says Nikkel.

And recently daily air service was re-established with Kapuskasing through Bearskin Airlines granting that community greater access to medical services at the Timmins District Hospital.

The two-runway airport, which regularly handles Dash-8 traffic among its 28,000 movements per year, recently re-asphalted their 6,000-foot (1800-metre) main runway and can accommodate aircraft as large as the Boeing 767 and Airbus 319.

The municipality receives seven daily flights to Toronto via Air Ontario as well as regular service through Bearskin Airlines and Air Creebec Inc. to other major Northern Ontario centres and the outlying remote communities along the James Bay coast.

The airport is also one of the North's busier facilities acting as a passenger freight-handling hub for the Ministry of Natural Resources fire control base, Ministry of Health air ambulances and many private and corporate aircraft for prospectors, forestry and mining companies and outfitters.

FedNor kicks in support

The Venture Centre in Timmins recently received a $500,000 grant from FedNor to assist outlying northern, rural communities strengthen their economies. The funding will enable the Venture Centre, also known as the Timmins and District Community Futures Development Corporation (TDCFDC) to increase their level of investment in the small business communities of Timmins, Gogama, Foleyet, Mattagami First Nation and Shining Tree.

With a mandate focused on the development of small and medium-size businesses in the area, the Venture Centre strives to build on the strengths of the regional economy through job creation. The money will assist the Venture Centre in its effort to deliver programs and services to support community economic development and business growth.

The funding announcement was made on March 21 by Timmins-James Bay MP Reg Belair. The Venture Centre is one of 52 community futures development corporations (CFDC) in Ontario, funded by Industry Canada's Community Futures Program through FedNor.
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Title Annotation:Timmins Airport
Author:Ross, Ian
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Words:679
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