ed: If everyone takes the time to send a letter, perhaps the Transport Minister will begin to understand the devastating effect that the closure of Buttonville Airport would have. Please spread the word for aviation supporters to check our web site for the background and then contact their MPs and Minister Baird.
Dear Minister Baird
I was deeply concerned to learn that your initial reaction to the impending withdrawal of the GTAA's support for Buttonville Airport was to remain neutral. Buttonville Airport plays a critical role in the general aviation and communications infrastructure of Toronto and Southern Ontario. I am also deeply concerned that my government appears to have little or no understanding of the role general aviation has played in the history of Canada, nor of the important role it plays today. I am further concerned that my government apparently has no plan in place to support this important sector of our communications infrastructure for the future.
I am sure you have read the numbers regarding the jobs, business opportunities and tax revenue that will be negatively affected at Buttonville if it closes. Multiply this by a factor of hundreds or thousands to understand what the official neglect of general aviation in this country will cost, both financially and culturally.
Communities across Canada depend on general aviation for their very lifelines to the outside world. People like Wiley Post and Max Ward were general aviation pilots who recognized this, and became Canadian heroes who filled this need.
Whenever you take a ride on a government jet to some remote part of Canada to fulfill your duties as Minister, you are taking advantage of the general aviation system on a general aviation flight.
When Hope Air pilots volunteer their time and their small aircraft to transport medical patients from remote communities to hospital appointments in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, London or Ottawa, those patients' lives are being improved through the benefits of general aviation. In large part, Hope Air and its volunteers fill a gap the health care system cannot fulfill.
Other volunteer pilots help in search and rescue, wild life protection and environmental surveys - among other activities. There are no commercial operators who can, or are willing to take our place in these activities.
Private pilots, who spend significant amounts on travel, bring much needed revenue to small communities, fishing camps, and cities from coast to coast. We buy gas, pay for hotel rooms, patronize restaurants, stores, theatres and tourist attractions. Without the ability to fly, I may never have chosen to visit places like Hanover or Killarney, or Pelee Island. But I made friends and left money in those places - and learned a great deal about the country I call home.
There is an infrastructure in place in the general aviation world that trains future pilots for both commercial and private flying (including some of our astronauts), pumps their gas, repairs their airplanes, provides supplies and other support, collects taxes, provides storage space, safety services and continuing education.
The Canadian West may have been brought into Confederation by the railroads, but the rest of Canada, from Halifax to the Queen Charlottes to Inuvik was stitched together by the airways (and not always by the airlines), and by enterprising men and women who understood that the airways could not be reserved for the military and the big-business airlines.
This country is what it has become because, to a surprisingly large degree, everyone who flies has contributed in a significant way to its existence. And we still do!
Toronto Buttonville Airport is the only airport in the greater Toronto area with the facilities and ability to provide for the needs of the general aviation community. The withdrawal of GTAA support without a plan for an alternative, and the lack of a national policy to support general aviation, will result in significant jobs, businesses and tax revenues being lost.
I am dismayed that you apparently fail to understand the role general aviation plays in our history and our future as a nation. I ask you to reconsider your response to the GTAA/Buttonville issue, and also to consider addressing the need for a policy in support of the future of general aviation in Canada.