Pickering Airport - Controversy

Controversy

Critics have pointed to the expansion being undertaken at Toronto Pearson International Airport, charging that the current Pearson project is overzealous as well as lessening any need for the new Pickering Airport. The GTAA has publicly stated that the redevelopment of Pearson was necessary and timely. The GTAA maintains that Toronto Pearson may reach its capacity of 50 million passengers in the mid-2020s.

Once again, there is significant community opposition to the airport, including the umbrella group V.O.C.A.L. (Voters Organized to Cancel the Airport Lands). There is also significant opposition to the airport within the general aviation community, since the construction of the Pickering Airport will automatically cause the closure of the Markham Airport, which is located partly on the airport lands, and will cause the closure of Buttonville Airport as well.

Only Transport Canada, or the city of Oshawa in conjunction with Transport Canada, would have the authority to order the closure of the airport, and would not happen without significant opposition from local general aviation pilots, and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association. The GTAA's anticipation of Oshawa's closure is based on its belief that it is operationally and physically constrained and is therefore unsuitable as a Pearson reliever.

In the draft plan presented by the GTAA in 2004, mixing the displaced general aviation traffic with increased heavy passenger jet traffic also concerns many small aircraft pilots who would have no choice but to use the new airport, as larger airports tend to be less GA friendly, and more difficult for student pilot training.

The Pickering Airport could also affect the future of the Toronto Island airport and to a lesser degree, Hamilton Airport, more than 100 km to the southwest.

Plans for a Pickering airport have also received opposition from Transport 2000 Canada, who argue that a high-speed rail service in the existing Quebec City – Windsor Corridor would eliminate the need for an expensive new airport (since a large number of current and anticipated air travellers in the GTA would be served by such a service), while causing significantly less air pollution, community disruption, and loss of farmland. Proponents of high-speed rail expansion point to its success in Europe, where services such as Intercity-Express, TGV, Thalys, and Eurostar have drastically reduced the need for some short-haul (less than 3-hour) air routes.

The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association took exception to the methodology and conclusions of the GTAA's "Needs Assessment Study-- Pickering Lands," and argued that "the process to implement a new airport at Pickering should be well underway right now."

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