After losing out on landing Dornier Seaplane to Quebec, the City of North Bay is turning the page with plans to create a full-blown aviation hub at Jack Garland Airport.
The Mayor's Office of Economic Development is circulating a survey to North Bay area businesses and organization to gauge their interest in expanding into a combination aerospace and industrial park.
North Bay is almost out of serviced industrial land, said economic development officer Rick Evans, but there are more than 200 acres of greenfield airside acreage at Jack Garland "to put in play," and about 350 acres of ground-side property for non-aviation business.
The survey is a two-pronged effort to attract companies to the airport but also to gather passenger numbers to improve commercial air service.
The city hired a high-powered international marketing and strategic planning firm, Jacobs Consultancy, to sort through the responses and help assess what development opportunities exist.
Evans said the city is keeping an open mind to what those are.
Responses will be kept confidential. The deadline for completing the survey is June 14.
The city will use that information for an upcoming round of focus groups with various stakeholders.
The 27-question survey asks companies why they are located in North Bay, their workforce numbers, growth plans, acreage requirements, and what type of facility they would require.
On the business travel side, the city asks how often people fly, where they fly, and what influences their decisions to fly out of North Bay or if they prefer driving to Toronto's Pearson International Airport to catch a flight.
One question asks if companies or organizations would favour a direct link between North Bay and Toronto City Centre Airport.
Evans said those responses could be useful information to attract Porter Airlines, which is based on Toronto Island, and Air Canada Jazz, which is applying for landing rights at the downtown airport.
A draft plan has been completed for the aerospace-industrial park.
Evans said once a subdivision plan is registered, there will be enough flexible space to respond to individual company requests.
The city already has government funding partners lined up for an infrastructure servicing plan and Evans is optimistic they will get the support they need.
North Bay has scored some major successes on the aerospace side in the last decade by attracting a Bombardier waterbomber assembly plant and establishing Voyageur Airways in previously abandoned military hangars.
A 20,000-square-foot hangar, owned by Voyageur, stands ready for a new tenant.
Because of its 10,000-foot, military-length runway, North Bay has entertained the idea of handling air cargo, but the challenge with attracting chartered air freight has always been sourcing cargo to load on the backhaul.
"We're optimistic that in 2012 when the (Highway 11) four-laning is completed, that'll give us, we think, a leg up on trying to sell the magic of the backhaul," said Evans.
The short online survey is available here.