The Oshawa Municipal Airport is owned and maintained by the City of Oshawa. As a corporate and general aviation regional airport, it serves the City of Oshawa, the Region of Durham and eastern portions of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The airport operates as a key component of the regional transportation infrastructure and plays an important role in supporting regional economic growth and attracting new businesses to the community.
In light of the perceived operational constraints associated with the limited runway length and the potential impacts associated with the pending closure of Buttonville Airport, the Oshawa Municipal Airport decided to undertake a study to update the runway expansion technical review and identify the potential operational, economic and community impacts that the extension of Runway 12-30 and the closure of Buttonville Airport would have on Oshawa Municipal Airport. [Click here to view the final report]
In mid April, as part of its consideration the Oshawa Municipal Airport and the City of Oshawa hosted six public Open Houses at the Oshawa and District Shrine Club. Staff and consultants were available to answer questions with respect to the runway extension, business opportunities, economic impact for the City and Region and community impact. There were residents in opposition to any expansion, as well as supporters for the expansion.
In the future, the City will host a public meeting at a regularly scheduled Development Services Committee to consider all comments received from the Open House and the public will have the opportunity to speak at this meeting, for all view points are equally credible and deserve equal consideration. It is felt by many that compromise and skillful political leadership will be required to build consensus.
In December 2005 in a letter to the City the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce supported the request from COPA (Canadian Owner’s and Pilot’s Association) for an Economic Impact Study to be done on the Oshawa Municipal Airport.
The study, completed in February 2007, unveiled surprising results. According to the study, the airport was responsible for a direct impact of 215 jobs and $28.3 million in value-added gross domestic product (GDP) and a total impact of 438 jobs and $57.8 million in value-added GDP in 2005. The airport also generated $12.3 million in federal, provincial and municipal taxes that year—$2 million of which was collected at the local level. The study found 75 charter companies regularly use the airport in support of regional businesses. In order for the airport to secure new business, a commitment was undertaken to keep the airport at its current location for no less than 25 years.
The Chamber encouraged the City to develop a business plan and to consider as part of the plan synergies that may exist or could be developed. It was felt the airport presented numerous opportunities, including serving as an incubator for the proposed Pickering Airport, expanding the Regional economic base and attracting new Technology and Research businesses to UOIT. The efficient movement of people and goods, and the potential arrival of smaller commuter airlines to serve Durham Region would also encourage job creation, bring money to City coffers and offer Oshawa residents local travel alternatives.
In 2008, a Business Plan was prepared for Oshawa Municipal Airport. The Business Plan identified the existing runway length of 4,000 ft. as a significant constraint to future economic development. The current runway only supported 38% of corporate traffic and the majority of this only when runway conditions are bare and dry. A 5,000 ft. runway would accommodate 85% of corporate traffic and under inclement weather conditions.
In 2009, Oshawa Municipal Airport initiated a technical review to determine the feasibility of extending Runway 12-30 to 5,000 ft. In doing so, the airport would be capable of accommodating a broader range of aircraft under all weather conditions. The longer runway length would also provide operators with improved efficiency and flexibility in that aircraft would be capable of flying longer distances without refueling. It is anticipated the extension of Runway 12-30 would potentially attract additional aviation activity, which in turn would realize economic benefits to both the airport and the regional business community.
The review indicated with the anticipated closure of Buttonville Airport that a significant portion of Buttonville-based aviation businesses and aircraft would relocate to Oshawa. Also, the Pickering Land Needs Assessment Study prepared for Transport Canada and released in July 2010 indicated an interim need to accommodate future growth in corporate aviation and identified Oshawa Municipal Airport, as a potential site in which to accommodate the growth of corporate aviation activity in the Greater Toronto Area.
The increase in aviation activity and the relocation of aviation-related businesses to Oshawa Municipal Airport could significantly increase the economic benefits to the Region, both in terms of annualized direct and indirect GDP and in one-time construction benefits.
The report indicates that under a mature aviation activity scenario, it is estimated that the direct benefits to the airport in terms of additional revenues would be approximately $600,000 annually. In addition, it is further estimated that new commercial development on the airport could generate as much as $611,000 in annual property tax generation. Additional revenues would also be derived from the sale or lease of airport lands.
In addition to the projected increase in airport revenues and GDP identified above, the extended runway will provide a positive catalytic effect to the Region by enhancing business efficiency and productivity through improved access to a larger and more diverse component of corporate aviation. With the ability to accommodate a broader range of corporate aviation activity, Oshawa Municipal Airport will strengthen the community’s competitive position in attracting new investment.
This is important because as globalization continues to take hold, the competitiveness of industry is becoming increasing reliant on airports for direct, timely and reliable access to markets and suppliers.