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New stuff coming downtown?

Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre is talking about putting a high-tech makers' space in the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
2016-04-29 Hangar After Dark DMH-5
The Entomica insectarium may also move to the bushplane museum by year's end. Donna Hopper/SooToday

City Council will learn Monday about ongoing discussions that may bring three major new initiatives to the east end of Bay Street.

Mike Delfre, Kim Park and Richard Walker from the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre are expected to talk about the possibility of a private/public makers' space and a specialist program in aviation/aerospace for high school students coming to the bushplane museum.

They're also expected to discuss the possibility of the Entomica insectarium moving to the aviation museum by year's end.

The bushplane centre is one of seven outside agencies appearing before City Council on Monday in hopes of securing cash contributions in the 2018 municipal budget. 

"Initially, our makers' space could include access to carpentry, welding, audiovisual and pottery equipment and facilities, along with 3D printing and laser-cutting technology," Delfre, the bushplane museum's executive director, says in a memorandum prepared earlier this month for his board of directors.

Also called hackerspaces or hackspaces, makers' spaces are do-it-yourself facilities designed for people to gather and learn and create.

The Sault's facility would be developed in conjunction with the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and Maker North, a privately held manufacturer.

It would be located in the 93-year-old east hangar adjoining the museum.

Currently used for storage, the east hangar was the original home of the Ontario Provincial Air Service, which grew to become the world's largest noncommercial air service.

Along other things, the makers' space project is dependent on negotiations with Purvis Marine, which owns both hangars on the bushplane museum site.

Algoma District School Board is also interested in moving into the historic east hangar to establish a specialist high-skills major in aviation and aerospace.

Students would work there on aircraft restoration projects, similar to the White Pines Field School that's already on-site.

J.D. Aero, Springer Aerospace, Air Dale, White River Air Service and the Ontario government's aviation division have all offered to provide equipment, tools, parts, aircraft and wisdom to the project.

Subject to negotiations with the building owner, the new academic major could be offered in September 2018.

Delfre says Entomica has also approached the bushplane museum about moving its operation there from Mill Market.

"Entomica has asked to expedite the development of the partnership and their move to the [bushplane museum] to be completed by year end," he said.

Over the past two years, the museum has partnered with Entomica at the local science festival and at Bushplane Days.

SooToday's Darren Taylor reported this week that Entomica recently became a not-for-profit organization and is planning a fundraising dinner on Nov. 2 at the Grand Gardens.

Entomica spokesperson Michael Odom told Taylor that Entomica has held discussions about moving to a new location if necessary, but said that wouldn't be the insectarium’s first choice.

“If we came into a situation where we had the ability to expand, absolutely we’d be looking to do so,” Odom said.

Monday's City Council meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.