City Plan OK for Balloon Base Expansion at Timmins Airport

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City Council received an update on plans to expand the Canadian Space Agency’s Stratospheric Balloon Base at Victor M. Power Airport in Timmins during Tuesday’s meeting.

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“(City of Timmins CAO) Dave Landers, (City of Timmins Procurement and Fleet Manager) Gord Deacon and I spoke to some of the folks at the Canadian Space Agency responsible for balloon launches,” said said airport manager Dave Dayment.

“They wanted to know if the city was interested in expanding the hot air balloon base, which is at the airport. They wanted to gauge our interest in moving forward with a new building.

“So at that point we hired Rivard Engineering and they dealt directly with the Space Agency, to do their wish list and see a Class D estimate of what an expansion would entail.

“They are planning to move one of their antennas, add an elevator to their building #2, where they house their offices and launch window, and the new integration hall, where they gather payloads, take put them at the end of the track and hook them to the balloons and throw them.

Dayment said the balloon base itself is owned by the City of Timmins and leased to the Canadian Space Agency.

“During the campaigns, it is a joint venture between the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the French government space agency (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales – CNES),” he said.

“Phase 1 of the build, when we did it six or seven years ago, has already been paid for and we’ve extended it once, adding five ATCO trailers.

“They paid for all this infrastructure improvement and they liked the Class D estimate from Rivard Engineering.

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“They want to take the next step and that’s the next step (hiring a lead consultant).

“Based on their design criteria, we went out and put together a tender (request for proposals) to hire a contractor and an engineering architecture firm to do the design and drawings of the construction, which would go out for a call for tenders, under the aegis of the City of Timmins, at the expense of the Canadian Space Agency.

“They were happy with the price, so we put out a tender and a proposal was submitted to us last month, by L360 Architecture.

“Their scope of work will be for the design of the building and the administration of the contract, in the amount of $125,000 (plus HST), for the design.”

On the specified day after completion of the design work, the project will be re-tendered for the building construction contract.

“At that time, the Canadian Space Agency will decide whether or not to proceed, depending on the cost at that time,” he said.

“They do their own internal routing that they need for funding. They believe they have everything in their place and, as I said, it would cost the city nothing.

“We would face it and do the construction. That would be our facility, owned by us, whatever they pay for or build is left behind and right now we’re working with Public Works Canada to amend the ground lease for three or four more extensions.

“So it will certainly pay for itself and it’s a good time because it allows us to insert new things into the lease that weren’t there before, some of the operating costs that we’re looking to recover that weren’t really not known at the time (of the original lease being signed).

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“The lease was actually put in place before the original buildings were built.”

District 4 Com. John Curley said, “That’s good news.

Dayment added, “The baseball field would potentially represent up to $3 million in new infrastructure added, so that’s good news.”

The airport manager invited the mayor and councilors to attend a future balloon launch, “at 2 a.m., whenever you want”.

Mayor George Pirie, wrapping up the discussion, said: “Sounds good, looks like we’re going to be up early.”

Council unanimously approved the expenditure of $125,000 plus HST for the agreement with L360 Architecture to design and administer the contract for the proposed balloon base expansion.

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