By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
By Chris Jones
The Oshawa Express
A much-anticipated report from KPMG on the viability of the long-proposed Pickering Airport concludes the province doesn’t needs another airport – yet.
The report, which has been on the minds of regional councillors, city councillors, and Durham residents alike for some time, has recommended, based on supply and demand, a new airport in southern Ontario isn’t needed by 2036.
Instead, the company suggests improvements can be made to existing infrastructure.
In preparing the report, KPMG reviewed four possible scenarios, and all reached the same conclusion – expansion is all that will be needed for the time being.
The report given is the first of three which will present an up-to-date projection determining whether capacity constraints at Toronto Pearson International Airport and others around southern Ontario will influence the need for an airport in Pickering.
A previous study showed an airport would be needed by 2036, and consultation resulted in the discovery of several common opinions.
Many feel there is a need for better communication with the public regarding the future of the lands purchased by the federal government back in 1972.
Others simply hope Transport Canada will soon make a decision in the near future as to what to do with the lands. There were also differing opinions on the need for an airport at all.
“Air carriers were generally not in favour of a new airport on the Pickering Lands, as they cited good working relationships with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority at Toronto Pearson Airport, and they were concerned about the cost of developing a new [airport in Pickering] if aeronautical fees collected at Toronto Pearson Airport were to subsidize the project,” reads the report.
However, air operators generally felt differently.
“Airport operators were generally in favour of a new airport on the Pickering Lands, citing a lack of general aviation capacity east of the GTA with the pending closure of the Buttonville Airport,” states the report.
All municipalities consulted also indicated their support for the new airport, as did industry organizations and local interest groups, according to the report.
The report also indicates there are several key development areas in southern Ontario which may hold back the need for an airport as well. One such factor is the development of high-speed rail services in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor.
It’s expected the introduction of the high-speed rail line will reduce flight demand by 2.3 million passengers annually by 2036.
While a number of factors are expected to play a part in whether or not there will be an airport in Pickering, the findings of the study do not preclude the need for a new airport in southern Ontario beyond the 2036.
The release of the report has Regional Chair John Henry excited, as he says its findings aren’t necessarily negative for Durham.
“We’re excited. When you read the entire report… it said 2036, and what it didn’t say is it takes that long to build an airport,” says Henry.
He notes by the time all the work needed is done, it’s going to be 12 to 14 years down the road.
Timing is key, says Henry, adding he’s encouraged KPMG talks about 2036 in the report because it will take that long to get everything done.
“We have a chance to do something that will be simply unbelievable,” he says. “A 21st century airport that will meet the needs of the residents of really Ontario, Canada and Durham Region. We’ll be able to build an airport that is also taking the best of what’s around the world.”