―By Mark Brooks
The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will be getting a new airport. The Region of Durham, located just to the east of Toronto, has released its new draft plan on how and where it plans to grow. The Plan includes a multi-modal employment hub based around a new airport in north Pickering. The new airport and an associated advanced employment zone will utilize 9,600 acres of federally owned land set aside for an airport in the 1970s. As suggested by a recent Transport Canada study, the new airport is expected to open initially as a utility, general aviation and specialty passenger airport. Over time it is expected to grow into the GTA’s second busiest airport handling both regional and international flights.
Volunteers from the Buttonville Flying Club (COPA flight 44) have been advocating for the new airport for more than a decade. On March 7, 2023, a club member led a delegation to the Durham region council, empathizing the important role of the new airport in adding badly needed new capacity. The airport will support the growth of advanced industries as well as enable the adoption of new net zero emissions aviation fuels and technology. The new hub will help offset the critical shortage of industrial land around Pearson airport, which according to the Toronto Board of Trade, now has the lowest vacancy rate in North America (0.5 percent).
A club volunteer also led a delegation to the City of Pickering council meeting on February 27, 2023, in response to two council members who purposed a motion opposing the airport. Debate on that motion continued March 8 and will conclude on April 24. Regardless of the outcome of that debate, the regional plan is expected to be submitted to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for approval. It will then be up to the federal government to initiate the airport RFP process.
On February 27, the CEO of Hitachi Canada, Mr. Howard Shearer, spoke to the Pickering city council about a willingness to invest more than one Billion dollars into the new transportation hub including the airport and a High Frequency Rail stop.
For more information on the efforts of the Buttonville Flying Club volunteers you can check out their website setup specifically on this issue at www.PickeringAirport.org.
(Photo: Mark Brooks)