March 26, 2016 - In a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau in late February the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce (GOCC) outlined the importance of projects like the Pickering Airport in meeting the future economic and transportation needs of the GTA. The Chamber stressed that it did not wish to see projects like the proposed Pickering Airport unduly delayed where due diligence has been performed.
In 1998 the Chamber in principle, agreed with then Transport Minister David Collenette’s plan to protect the Pickering site for future airport development.
The letter went on to say that it was good business sense to plan for the future but it has now been over forty-seven years since the lands for the proposed Pickering airport were first expropriated and urged the Prime Minister to make a decision.
At its February Board meeting, the Chamber reaffirmed its position on the Pickering Airport lands that the Chamber believes the proposed Pickering Airport has significant economic benefits for existing business and has the potential to attract new businesses in Durham Region. The Chamber feels regional airports are a solid spoke in the GTA’s transportation hub, assisting business activities to remain strong in the GTA and Ontario as a whole and continues to support the need for a coherent program for developing the GTA’s regional airport infrastructure, including Oshawa and the proposed Pickering Airport, into a truly regional airport system. The Chamber believes Ottawa, Queen’s Park, along with the GTTA, regional and local governments need to ensure that a strong and sustainable regional airport plan is in place for the GTA.
Over the past four decades, in keeping with the direction of successive federal government, the Region of Durham has been operating on the premise that an airport would be built and have taken steps to prepare for an eventual airport on the Pickering lands. The water and sewer plants and pipes in the Pickering area have been over-sized to serve an airport and the new economic development and jobs that the airport would bring. Collectively the Province, Durham Region and Pickering land owners have committed more than $79 million for water and sewers to ensure the airport lands are ready for immediate development.
Updates to the Airport Site Order and Airport Zoning Regulations are nearing completion. Recent studies indicate that by the early 2030’s, Toronto Pearson will reach its capacity and the GTAA is currently undertaking additional studies in co-operation with all of southern Ontario’s airports from Windsor to Kingston. Also, the development of Seaton, the new community in central Pickering planned by the Ontario Government to grow to 70,000 people and 35,000 jobs, is just beginning south of the Pickering airport lands. The Chamber’s letter noted that “the Federal government has a unique opportunity with the airport lands in Pickering to create thousands of jobs and investment at a scale that would benefit the GTA and Durham.” The letter went on to add that the development of the airport in Pickering would be a job creator and an economic hub and has long been supported by Durham Regional Council. It is estimated that a reliever airport at Pickering would create over 10,000 jobs.
In 1998 the Federal Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Jean Chretien, put in place plans to protect the Pickering Airport site. The Federal Government of the day did not want to put the Greater Toronto Area in a position, 25 years hence, in which development around the Pickering site precluded the option of constructing another major airport to service the GTA.
A needs assessment study (NAS) was launched in May 2007 to broaden and update previous work on the role and capacity of airports in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). Following a due diligence review of the study, Transport Canada publicly released the NAS on July 11, 2011. The NAS forecasted that another commercial airport would be needed in the GGH area between 2027 and 2037 and that the Pickering Lands remained the optimal site for such an airport.
On June 11, 2013, the Government of Canada announced a responsible, balanced approach for the development of the Pickering Lands, which sets aside a smaller portion of land for a future airport (8 700 acres), the transfer of 5 000 acres towards the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park with some economic development on the remaining lands.
At a recent meeting of the Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade in Durham Region it was pointed out that Durham Region has suffered decades of decline in the automotive manufacturing sector and supply sector and that the Oshawa CMA has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Ontario. It was agreed the Region needs an economic boost to renew and diversify its economy and it was suggest that the business community needs to be vocal and support the Pickering Airport. If you would like to participate, send a letter of support to your MP and the Minister of Transport. See below for a list of MP’s and their contact information.
The GOCC is one of the largest business associations in Durham Region with over 900 entrepreneurs, managers and corporate executives as members representing some 720 businesses, which employ close to 40,000 in the greater Oshawa area. In its role to provide positive leadership in support of businesses, its members and the private enterprise system, the Chamber realizes that any decision as to the development of the Pickering Airport needs to be done with due diligence. As the business community, we expect due diligence and adherence to proper processes in reviewing environmental, safety and other concerns.
Erin O’Toole, MP Durham
54 King Street East, Suite 103, Bowmanville, Ontario L1C 1N3
Phone: 905-697-1699 Fax: 905-697-1678
Dr. Colin Carrie, MP Oshawa
57 Simcoe St. S., Suite 2B, Oshawa, Ontario L1H 4G4
Phone: 905-440-4868 Fax: 905-440-4872
Celina Caesar-Chavannes, MP Whitby
701 Rossland Road East, Suite 206, Whitby, Ontario L1N 8Y9
Phone: 905-665-8182 Fax: 905-665-8124
Mark Holland, MP Ajax-Pickering
100 Old Kingston Road, Suite 1, Ajax, Ontario L1T 2Z9
Phone: 905-426-6808 Fax: 905-426-9564
Jennifer O’Connell, MP Pickering - Uxbridge
1154 Kingston Road, Unit 4, Pickering, Ontario L1V 1B4
Phone: 905-839-2878 Fax: 905-839-2423