Responding to Transport Canada’s release of its findings on the Pickering Lands Needs Assessment Study the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) announced on August 10, 2011 that it has secured the services of Malone Given Parsons Ltd. to review the findings and recommendations for retention of the Pickering Lands as a future airline airport site.
Transport Canada’s announcement follows a due diligence exercise, which involved “checking and verifying (the Study’s) assumptions, methodology and findings to ensure completeness and adequacy”, according to the announcement. It goes on to say that “The Government of Canada will prepare a federal plan for the Pickering Lands in the coming months” using this Study for guidance.
Transport Canada’s report while concluding that the lands should be retained, it also builds the case for permitting General Aviation to deteriorate significantly in the Toronto area. “The Study boldly states that Recreational Aviation is declining and it states that airports as far away as Hamilton, Kitchener, Barrie and Peterborough can accommodate what remains of General Aviation in the event that one or more Toronto area airports close or activity is restricted at any of these airports” said Kevin Psutka, President and CEO, of COPA. “Given the continuing growth in the number of privately registered aircraft, it is difficult to conclude that this sector is declining.” And while it is true that distant airports may accommodate some Toronto traffic, the Study fails to consider that an airport as far away as Barrie would not be an attractive destination for people flying into Toronto by private aircraft to conduct business, for people from Toronto seeking a location to base their aircraft or seeking a convenient aviation training location close to where they live in Toronto. “The Study illustrates the continuing need for a review of the National Airports Policy, which has failed to ensure a viable system of smaller airports,” said Psutka.
The Malone Given Parsons Ltd. team will apply their strategic planning expertise to examine the Study as it relates to General Aviation so that COPA can then help the government understand the impact of the Study’s recommendations on this sector and consequently develop a more realistic plan that includes a viable General Aviation sector.
COPA represents Canadians who fly aircraft for personal transportation and recreation. Its mission is to protect Personal Aviation and promote it as a valued, integral and sustainable part of the Canadian Community.