Developing a Master Plan for Muskoka Airport with an eye to regional tourism

In recent years, Muskoka Airport has successfully attracted new air services and land development businesses. To support this trend, Muskoka Airport contracted with Tetra Tech and OEI to develop a Master Plan, an economic impact analysis, and subsequent planning support.

Muskoka Airport Developing Alongside Cottage Country
Muskoka is synonymous with cottage country in Ontario, a busy recreational getaway for residents of the largest city in the country. The picturesque region of Canadian Shield, boreal forest, and little lakes lies approximately two hours north of Toronto by road. The region’s population more than doubles with seasonal residents who live there throughout the summer.

The Muskoka Airport serves the region and, pre-COVID-19, it had attracted its first scheduled air services from Porter Airlines and FlyGTA in order to bring visitors in from farther afield than Greater Toronto. The airport has also attracted investors in groundside and airside properties at the site that would provide a range of aviation and passenger services. Before the pandemic, SkyService Aviation, a leading business aviation provider with several fixed-base operations, announced a major expansion to provide maintenance to medium-sized aircraft at the site. The pandemic has delayed this until the economy recovers.

The Challenge
The airport required a plan to guide its development, one that would maximize land for development, meet the needs of aircraft flying to the airport, and ensure it could support the opportunities that were presenting themselves. The site required a comprehensive Airport Master Plan and subsequent planning and analysis to support these goals; and all planning would need to be approved by the airport advisory board and the District Municipality.

OEI’s Response and Support
OEI has delivered projections and economic and financial analysis, including an economic impact study and financial analysis of proposed projects. In 2019 the airport supported almost 180 total jobs and $22.6 million in GDP. The work completed included planning and analysis for the initial project and follow-up runway planning. The project began in late 2019 and is continuing into 2022 with supplementary runway planning projects.