Ottawa to Study Southern Ontario’s Airport Needs with Focus on Expropriated Pickering Lands

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra at Pearson Airport in Toronto.

Transport Canada has issued a request for proposals for an aviation professional services contractor to scope a study into airport capacity in Southern Ontario.

The ministry is preparing for a comprehensive study into the current and future airport needs of the area. The press release says the study will take a particularly close look at the Pickering airport lands, where the government has considered building an international airport for decades. After the scoping stage, Transport Canada will issue a second RFP for a contractor to undertake the actual study and consultation.

“Air travel is essential to growing an economy that works for everyone and creating good, middle-class jobs in Southern Ontario and the rest of the country," said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

"As we continue to support the recovery of the air sector, there is a need to study and understand the potential impacts of a growing population on existing airport infrastructure. Today is the beginning of a process to analyze the future of the Southern Ontario airport system. This work will also bring us closer to making a final decision on the Pickering Lands.”

The federal government expropriated lands in Pickering to build an airport more than 50 years ago, but the lands were never redeveloped. A large block of Pickering councillors oppose building an airport, pointing to a 2020 KPMG study saying a new airport is not needed in southern Ontario before 2036.

In its press release, Transport Canada said it did not intend to make a decision on the Pickering airport in the near future and that the study could lead to a determination that the airport is not necessary.

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