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The Future of The Pickering Lands – Your input is needed by 31 July

By Kevin Psutka

The federal government’s recent announcement for carving up the Pickering Lands http://tc.gc.ca/eng/mediaroom/releases-2013-h075e-7212.html and retaining a portion for a future airport refreshed COPA’s concerns regarding the state of General Aviation airports in the Greater Toronto Area and the need to develop another airport http://www.copanational.org/PresColumnJuly13.cfm .

As part of the government’s commitment to consult with stakeholders, here is your opportunity to provide direct input to the process and subsequent decisions. A feedback form http://tc.sondages-surveys.ca/s/PL-BFP/?l=en is available. It is important that a form letter type of response not be provided but rather that you put into your own words why it is important to develop an airport and specifically why it is important for our sector of aviation and the benefits it provides to the economy and to society, as a form of transport and recreation.

Here are some key points that we would like you to provide in your own words:

1)                  Addresses a long-standing need for a GA airport: Ask the government to consider COPA’s Review of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority “Needs Assessment Study - Pickering Lands” http://www.copanational.org/files/Pickering%20Lands%20Needs%20Assessment.pdf which provides data in support of another airport when Buttonville closes.

2)                  Good for the Environment: Reduces carbon emissions by saving Fuel- A new regional airport will save aviation fuel and reduce carbon emissions by improving efficiency at all of  Toronto’s Airports. This includes reducing hold times, improved aircraft separation times and allowing a more efficient separation of our unique mix of light, medium and heavy aircraft types.

3)                  Allows for the creation of a new park - A park is a compatible use for land that borders on an airport. It not only provides enjoyment for everyone but it provides a buffer zone, which in part is why so much land was expropriated long ago, between the airport and incompatible land uses such as residential.

4)                  Good for the Economy: It creates jobs, not only during the construction phase but for decades to come. In addition, hundreds of jobs at the Buttonville airport can be transferred to the new airport, thereby retaining existing jobs. A new regional airport will offset the closure of Buttonville airport. Based on several economic impact studies at Buttonville and elsewhere, there will be at least $100 million per year in direct and indirect economic activity from the new airport, even in its early phases.

5)                  Strengthens Ontario’s Economy: Turns around the deteriorating aviation infrastructure in the GTA to connecting Bay Street to Main Streets throughout Ontario; something that is not possible at Pearson airport because of their pricing and access policies for smaller air carriers, corporate and private operators.

6)                  Supports Aviation as a Community Service– Air services provided by General Aviation, including for example medical flights, government administrative access, police surveillance and flight training for airline personnel all require airports, located conveniently, with consequent social benefits. One such example is the volunteer Hope Air flights www.hopeair.org , currently flown from Buttonville, which connect those in need located in remote Northern Ontario communities directly to specialized healthcare at Toronto’s world class hospitals. Another is the Ontario premier’s efficient use of Buttonville to access small town Ontario.

7)                  Good for Ontario Consumers: Provides free market competition for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority’s current monopoly on jet access to Toronto.

8)                  Good for Taxpayers: Proposals have been submitted to develop an airport using non-government funding to relieve the taxpayer of the burden and generate corporate taxes and both direct and indirect revenues that will benefit all Canadians.

9)                  Good for Aviation Safety: Enhanced aviation infrastructure contributes to safety for the travelling public.  A new airport will relieve the increasing congestion at all of Toronto’s airports and will also enable the safe separation of the unique mix of aircraft types and pilot skills levels flying into Toronto. Toronto compares poorly with many other Canadian and US cities in the provision of reliever airports for its major airline airport.