Pickering airport to finally land

by Array

PICKERING, Ontario—After circling in a holding pattern for years, a new airport will finally be landing east of Toronto in an area of green space that will also house a national park.

Finance minister Jim Flaherty says the 75-square-kilometre Pickering Lands area that Ottawa acquired in 1972 will be the site of the future airport. The facility will be situated in the southeast quadrant of the parcel of land.

According to a 2011 Transport Canada study, the Greater Toronto Area will need another airport sometime in the 2027 to 2037 timeframe.

Besides the airport construction, additional land will also be set aside for economic development, and Flaherty says Ottawa will consult with community and business groups to figure out what to build.

“With the Buttonville Airport closing, with Highway 407 being extended eastward, and now clarity around the Pickering Lands, Durham Region is well positioned to be a hub for transportation, business development and job creation.”

In addition to the new transportation hub, nearly 20 square kilometres of green space is being set aside for the Rouge National Urban Park—which, with the new land, will be 13 times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

Residents who live near the proposed airport site in north Pickering have fought plans for an airport for years over concerns about noise, pollution and a decline in property values, but Pickering mayor David Ryan is behind the plan, despite the long-standing local opposition.

“It’s 41 years later. The GTA has grown. Pickering has grown. The demand is here,” he said.

Parks Canada will take over land for the national park from Transport Canada, with the  paperwork expected to be completed by summer of next year.

The government is accepting feedback about the plan from residents, stakeholders, and interested parties.