January 19th, 2018

Bombardier puts Toronto aerospace facility in Downsview up for sale

By Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press on January 12, 2018.

People tour the Bombardier Global 7000 aircraft and facility in Toronto on Tuesday, November 3, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

MONTREAL – Bombardier is shopping around its sprawling aircraft manufacturing site in Toronto’s high-priced real-estate market.

The transportation company says it has put the 152-hectare Downsview location north of the city’s downtown up for sale as part of its financial turnaround plan.

The Montreal-based company (TSX:BBD.B) has been on the site since it purchased de Havilland Canada in 1992 but the airfield was built in 1929 to test de Havilland aircraft.

The land, which has one runway, was used for the papal visits of John Paul II and served as a military base during the Second World War. It is a potentially valuable piece of land near subway stations and Highway 401.

Bombardier owns several hangars where Q400 turboprops and several business jets are assembled by about 3,500 workers.

Spokesman Olivier Marcil said the land is larger than the company needs and no final decision has been made regarding a sale or relocation of its operations. Only 14 hectares of space is regularly used.

Bombardier is about halfway through its five-year turnaround plan that is designed to improve its financial health after nearly going bankrupt over development of its C Series commercial jet. Bombardier has signed a deal to sell a majority stake in the program to Airbus.

Toronto Coun. Maria Augimeri says she will oppose the sale of the prime land near subway stations and the main highway that bisects the city.

“Got it on good authority that you’re secretly courting developers in scheme to turn Downsview plant into a massive housing project,” she tweeted. “Over my dead body.”

Bombardier said it will maintain a presence in the city even if it sells the site. It has talked to Pearson International Airport about relocating to the site.

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