By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Durham regional council wants the federal government to make a decision on the status of the Pickering Airport.
A motion was passed recently by regional council to advise the federal government it supports the development of an airport in the City of Pickering.
According to regional chair John Henry, a copy of the motion will be forwarded to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the hopes it will help the federal government to finally make a decision.
“We would like the government to make a decision after all these years about creating an economic engine in the eastern part of the GTA,” says Henry.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan raised the issue when he stated there has been pressure from potential businesses which want the commitment of an international airport.
“To have them stay in Canada and move to the U.S. because they’ve lost out on space, it would be a tragedy,” says Henry.
Fiaz Jadoon, Pickering’s manager of economic development and strategic projects, says the city has been waiting for the federal government to make a decision about the Pickering Airport for some time.
If it’s approved, Jadoon hopes the airport will “kick start economic development opportunities” and attract jobs.
“There’s a lot of industry leaders who are reaching out to the city wanting to relocate their operations to Pickering, and we’re trying to send that message to the federal government,” says Jadoon.
If approved, Henry believes believe the airport will create thousands of jobs, but for Pat Valentine, a member of Land Over Landings, a group firmly against the airport, there are bigger issues at hand.
“I live in Pickering, so to hear my Mayor say that the people have already spoken and therefore there doesn’t need to be any public consultation was a real shock,” she says.
Valentine told The Oshawa Express, “As time goes by, and with climate change bearing down on us, this land becomes more and more valuable. It’s class one farmland, it has clean streams running through it, drinking water… it is a place where food could be supplied to Canada’s largest city right on their borders.”
Pickering-Uxbridge MP Jennifer O’Connell told The Oshawa Express she doesn’t believe there is a viable business plan for an airport at this time.
“The official position of the government and Transport Canada is that the Pickering Airport would not be considered without a strong business case, and so far that has not been done,” she says.