Timmins officials say newly paved runways at the airport have potential to attract Caribbean carriers
TIMMINS -- The City of Timmins can hear the wild blue yonder calling its name now that the re-paving of its runways and taxiways is complete.
The COVID-19 pandemic and deteriorating infrastructure have been some bumps in the road for the Timmins Victor M Power airport, but now that the $9.5 million rehabilitation and resurfacing of its approximately 40 kilometres of roadways there is done, officials are hoping it'll be smooth sailing for a while.
"737s were in here before we started this work last year," said Dave Dayment, the airport manager.
He said they charter forest firefighting personnel around.
"We have Hercules coming in here doing search and rescue ... a Hercules could be well over 100,000 pounds. So when we upgraded the runway and added (more asphalt) to it, it gave us a little longer lifespan," Dayment said.
The federal government funded 60 per cent of the paving job and the airport paid the balance. The airport is operated by the City of Timmins, but it's on its own to pay its bills.
This is why Dayment said it's import business resume as soon as possible and he said the new runways will help it land more contracts.
"A couple years we’ve been looking at to get some funding to do ... a land use document for future planning. If someone was to show up and wanted to build a hanger; ground base maintenance facility of some kind; industrial of some kind ... we need to get an inventory of what we’re capable of doing," he said.
Timmins Mayor George Pirie agreed and said the Timmins Economic Development Corporation is also working on diversification plans for the city.
"I think you’ve heard me talk about the possibility of having carriers come here to go into the Caribbean and to get into other locations and with Timmins being the hub within northeastern Ontario, northeastern Quebec ... we have to have the best possible airport.," Pirie said.
Pre-pandemic, the Timmins Victor M Power Airport checks in approximately 180,000 passengers a year from around the region on: passenger, cargo, evacuation, and air ambulance flights, to name a few.
Airport officials look forward to seeing additional flights when pandemic restrictions loosen, however they say that will depend on whether or not people resume travelling again. Currently, Dayment said most flights are mining related.
He said the airport's next big project will be to develop the 20-year strategic plan.