Pickering Airport

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Pickering Airport
IATA: n/aICAO: n/a
Airport type Public
Operator Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA)
Serves Greater Toronto Area
Location Pickering, Ontario
Coordinates 43°56′06″N 079°10′05″W / 43.93500°N 79.16806°W / 43.93500; -79.16806Coordinates: 43°56′06″N 079°10′05″W / 43.93500°N 79.16806°W / 43.93500; -79.16806
Pickering Airport is located in Ontario
Pickering Airport
Pickering Airport
Approximate location in Ontario
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10L/28R[1] 10,000 3,048 n/a
15/33 8,500 2,591 n/a
10R/28L 10,000 3,048 n/a
Sources: Transport Canada[2]

Pickering Airport is a proposed international airport to be built directly north-east of Toronto in Pickering, Ontario, Canada, approximately 65 km (40 mi) east of Toronto Pearson International Airport. It would be intended to serve the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe, and would be and operated by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). Estimates of financial costs were reported to be approximately $2 billion, anticipating up to 11.9 million passengers per year by 2032.[3]

The original plans for the airport were developed during the 1970s as part of a widespread federal government plan to improve air travel across Canada. Lands were expropriated in 1972, but opposition to the expansion plan was widespread. The plans were shelved in 1975 when the Government of Ontario stated it would not build the roads or sewers needed to service the site. A "Needs Assessment Study" was completed by the GTAA for the federal government in 2010. After a "due diligence review," Transport Canada released the report in 2011.[4] A decision to proceed with airport planning and construction was announced on June 11, 2013.[5]



In 1972, the federal government (which then owned and operated all major Canadian airports) expropriated 7430 hectares of farmland, including some hamlets like Altona, which is now a ghost town. The Pickering Airport Project was postponed due to opposition by community activists and environmentalists. However, the government did not resell the Pickering lands to its original owners, maintaining the ability to revive the project in the future. To this day, the original owners have continued to lease the land from the government. 3,051 hectares have been protected as green space in perpetuity, including a corridor of land connecting the Rouge Park with the Oak Ridges Moraine.[6] A similar major land expropriation took place north of Montreal for the Montréal-Mirabel International Airport, which opened in 1975, the same year that the Pickering project was postponed.

Transport Canada revived plans for the Pickering Airport in 2001 and the federal government has revived the land's designation as an airport site citing a number of reasons such as:

  • Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport (ICAO: CYKZ) - is also limited to smaller commuter aircraft and serves mostly privately based business travel. Upgrading the airport for longer runaways is unachievable because of urbanization around the airport. The GTAA is hoping this airport might be closed if Pickering is approved, and in 2009 announced the end of its $1.5 million annual subsidy to Buttonville for handling overflow general aviation traffic from Toronto Pearson.[7] The airport is slated to close by 2014-2015.[8]

A decision to proceed with planning and construction was made on June 11, 2013.[9]


Critics have pointed to the expansion being undertaken at Toronto Pearson International Airport, charging that the current Pearson project is overzealous and lessens any need for the new Pickering Airport. The GTAA has stated that the redevelopment of Pearson was necessary and timely. The GTAA maintains that Toronto Pearson may reach its capacity of 50 million passengers in the mid-2020s.[10]

There is significant community opposition to the Pickering airport again, including Land Over Landings.[11] There is a sense of strong community rally in support for the Markham airport within the general aviation community, since the construction of the Pickering Airport being located next to an existing airport (Markham CNU8) and as stated in the Aeronautical Act cannot be built within a 5 nautical mile radius of an existing airport (Markham). This obviously would not lead to an automatic cause for closure of the Markham Airport, which has been around since 1965 and is currently looking to expand to a 6,000 ft runway and take-on the new role of private aviation airport since the closure of Buttonville Airport was caused due to the land being sold for development to the Fairview Cadillac group.

Only Transport Canada, or the city of Oshawa in conjunction with Transport Canada, would have the authority to order the closure of the airport, and would not happen without significant opposition from local general aviation pilots, and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association. The GTAA's anticipation of Oshawa's closure is based on its belief that it is operationally and physically constrained and is therefore unsuitable as a Pearson reliever.

In the draft plan presented by the GTAA in 2004, mixing the displaced general aviation traffic with increased heavy passenger jet traffic also concerns many small aircraft pilots who would have no choice but to use the new airport, as larger airports tend to be less GA friendly, and more difficult for student pilot training.

The Pickering Airport could also affect the future of the Toronto Island airport and to a lesser degree, Hamilton Airport, more than 100 km to the southwest.

Plans for a Pickering airport have also received opposition from Transport 2000 Canada, who argue that a high-speed rail service in the existing Quebec City – Windsor Corridor would eliminate the need for an expensive new airport (since a large number of current and anticipated air travellers in the GTA would be served by such a service), while causing significantly less air pollution, community disruption, and loss of farmland.[citation needed] Proponents of high-speed rail expansion point to its success in Europe, where services such as Intercity-Express, TGV, Thalys, and Eurostar have drastically reduced the need for some short-haul (less than 3-hour) air routes.

The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association took exception to the methodology and conclusions of the GTAA's "Needs Assessment Study-- Pickering Lands," and argued that "the process to implement a new airport at Pickering should be well underway right now."[12]

Federal approval[edit]

In June 2013, the federal government announced its plans for the Pickering airport lands. The Government of Canada will set aside the south-east area for a future airport, with the airport expected to be operational by 2027.[13] About 5,000 acres of the reserved lands are being transferred to Rouge Park as part of the Rouge National Park development.[14] The rest is earmarked for economic purposes.


The proposed airport will be located in the north west corner of Pickering. Parts of the airport will spill over into Markham and Uxbridge. The closest communities are Claremont (within Pickering), an exurban village of around 2800 residents located northeast of the airport lands, and Stouffville. The small community of Altona is completely within the airport lands. In preparation for the anticipated airport, a significant fifteenth century Huron ancestral village (the Draper Site) was completely excavated in 1975 and 1978.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Runway 10L/28R & 15/33 proposed for 2012. Runway 10R/28L proposed for 2032. Data obtained from "Pickering Airport Draft Plan Report" 3MB PDF or 12MB PDF
  2. ^ Pckering Airport Site Zoning Regulations
  3. ^ Cf. Transport Canada, Plan Showing Pickering Airport Site; also Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Pickering Airport Draft Plan Report, 6.3. By comparison, Toronto Pearson International Airport had 32.3 million passengers in 2008, with an average of 1,179 "aircraft movements" per day (GTTA, Toronto Pearson Fast Facts; and Pickering Airport Site Zoning Regulations, September 30, 2004.
  4. ^ Transport Canada, News Release: "Transport Canada releases findings of the 2010 Pickering Lands Needs Assessment Study," July 11, 2011.
  5. ^ Cf. Transport Canada, Press Release, June 11, 2013.
  6. ^ Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Pickering Airport Draft Plan Report, 1.4.
  7. ^ Buttonville airport risks closing
  8. ^ New ‘town’ to replace Buttonville Airport
  9. ^ Transport Canada, Press Release, June 11, 2013;
  10. ^ Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Pickering Airport Draft Plan Report, 1.3.
  11. ^ Land Over Landings
  12. ^ Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, Review of the GTAA "Needs Assessment Study--Pickering Lands" (2011), 4.4, p. 52.
  13. ^ Oved, Marco Chown (2013-06-11). "Finance Minister Flaherty says Pickering airport will be operational in 15 years". Toronto Star. 
  14. ^ Curry, Bill (2013-06-11). "Ottawa pledges new GTA airport, expanded national park". The Globe and Mail. 

External links[edit]