Pay me now or pay more later.
It's the words of advice the City of North Bay is sending to the federal government regarding a major repaving job needed for the 25-year-old runway at Jack Garland Airport.
However the original $5.5 million price tag to resurface the 10,000-foot military-length runway has jumped to almost $17 million.
A formal application was sent to Transport Canada in September asking for the feds to pick the bulk of the costs for a full-blown repaving of the runway surface.
The city's engineering consultants says the repaving job for its full length and width, the taxiways and to fill in the cracks on the apron will cost $16.6 million.
Under the Airports Capital Assistance Program, Ottawa must pick up 95 per cent of the costs, the remainder -- about $833,000 -- will come from the city.
The proposed work involves 60 millimetres of milling of the asphalt surface and replacing it with 80 millimetres of new asphalt.
Transport Canada has been balking about writing a cheque for the entire length of pavement, preferring only to pay for 6,500 feet and tearing up the remaining 3,500 feet.
Under federal rules, the city is only entitled to have 6,500 feet resurfaced since the largest regularly scheduled aircraft are twin-prop Dash 8's.
The airport is one of 15 Canadian airports that can land heavy-lift cargo aircraft.
The city isn't pushing to attract that kind of air traffic, but it likes having the option. As well, it serves as an emergency landing strip for large passenger jets unable to land in Toronto or Ottawa during severe weather.
Fedeli sent that message to Federal Finance Jim Flaherty and Liberal Deputy Leader Michael Ignatieff during their campaign stops to North Bay, Sept. 15.
Only Ignatieff delivered a full-blown pledge to make the investment if elected.
"This is a no brainer," say Fedeli, "we have to secure that investment." Either way the runway must be fixed by 2010.
As a stop-gap measure, they can elect to do a "shave and pave," in stripping a top layer of asphalt and replacing it. But within two years, the runway's base will have deteriorated to the point where it will be a $40 million project.
"It has to be done, it's just a matter of how much it costs," says Fedeli.
The city expects an answer by next spring, when engineering, costs, and tendering can be done in time for re-construction in 2010.
North Bay also has big plans to develop more industrial lots at the municipally-owned airport with 1,700 acres of undeveloped greenfield space.
Industrial land in North Bay is in short supply. New provincial environmental regulations on relocating wetlands is limiting the addition of any new tenants in the Ferris Industrial Park where the city has invested $10 million in infrastructure.
It's forcing development officials to go to high ground on top of an escarpment north of the city where Jack Garland Airport is situated.
Fedeli says the city will service a "few hundred acres" of flexible-sized lots depending on a company's need. There's outside interest from southern Ontario companies keen on expansion, he says, since many are not willing to fork over $1 million per acre for commercial real estate in the Greater Toronto Area.