With Southern Ontarios population expected to grow significantly over the next two decades, adding to over 6.3 million residents already living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the federal government is assessing the requirement for additional airport capacity in the region.

Councillors will debate a significant motion regarding a potential airport in Pickering on Monday night. The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 24, incouncil chambers and can be watched live on Pickering’s YouTube channel. The motion was introduced at a previous meeting and spoken to by members of the public, both for and against an airport, but was postponed to the April meeting.

Ward 2 city councillor Mara Nagy and Ward 2 regional councillor Linda Cook are presenting a motion stating that Pickering council does not support an airport in the City of Pickering, based on 2020 KPMG findings that there is no need for an airport until at least 2036, and based on Pickering councils 2019 commitment to strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The motion also states that no more resources or funds will be used to promote an airport on the federal lands, and that Pickering endorse a High Frequency Rail option with a stop in Green River as the preferred transportation method.

Commercial pilot, flight instructor and Friends of Pickering Airport member Mark Brooks believes the motion should be defeated and calls an airport a gateway to the 21st-century global economy. Developing the federal lands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new net-zero emissions airport, logistics and manufacturing hub, he said. We can harness private investment to create 60,000-plus new high-paying jobs, $800 million in new tax revenue, and add $10 billion to Canada’s GDP. Prosperity that can fund better schools, better medical care and lower property taxes.

It should be noted that the Federal government has stated that there are no current plans to proceed with building an airport on the Pickering Lands in the near term and the conclusions of the study could lead to a determination that an airport on the site is not required in the long term. The federal government expropriated 18,600 acres of farmland that year with the intention of building a second international airport to take the load off Pearson, with a goal of being operational by at least 2032 when it was anticipated the new airport would be handing 12 million passengers annually.

As we continue to support the recovery of the air sector, there is a need to study and understand the potential impacts of a growing population on existing airport infrastructure, said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra in announcing the RFP. Today is the beginning of a process to analyze the future of the Southern Ontario airport system. This work will also bring us closer to making a final decision on the Pickering Lands.

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Bryen writes about local Durham community news, including regional events, municipality updates, entertainment, lifestyle, and the great outdoors. Email him directly if you want your business profiled or know a community member that deserves recognition - bryen@thelocalbizmagazine.com