Is Pickering airport another Mirabel?

This sign has been on the Pickering lands for years. Was it placed there by a tenant farmer or by activists worried about wasting tax dollars?  Is invoking the ghost of Mirabel valid or just a tactic by the tenant to keep the cheap rents going?

Is it valid to compare Pickering and Mirabel airports? A quick fact check shows that they are polar opposites. Here are three key differences:

The reason to built is different.

Mirabel airport was a politically drive creation. It was built in the 1970s to try and jump start Montreal’s economy. It was intended to replace Montreal’s Dorval airport ( now Trudeau airport). As Dorval was revitalize instead of being closed, Mirabel was never needed.

Pickering airport is economically driven. Since the 1970s Toronto has seen relentless growth, ironically much of it diverted from the Montreal area due to the rise of the Quebec separatist movement. Toronto’s growth is forecast to continue into the foreseeable future. Pickering airport is intended to add capacity and offload traffic from Pearson airport, not replace it.

Toronto has capacity constraints, Montreal did not.

Montreal’s Dorval (now Trudeau) airport did not have capacity constraints, Toronto Pearson airport does. Like reorganizing a tiny house, each buildout at Pearson is costly and painfully disruptive to travelers.  Pearson airport is out of room to significantly expand its airside capacity. It simply does not have the room to add another runway able to do simultaneous landings safely in coordination with its existing runways.

Local demand exists for Pickering airport.

The new Pickering airport has one of Canadas largest passenger catchment areas. More than 2.3 million people live with in a 30 km radius of Pickering airport. Even today, 40 years after it was built, less than half that number live within the same radius of Mirabel. In addition, as the crow flies,  Mirabel is a third closer to Trudeau airport compared to Pickering’s distance from Pearson.

Today Mirabel airport has been repurposed primarily as a cargo hub. Pickering airport is expected to handle both cargo and passenger flights servicing both local and international needs.


One thought on “Is Pickering airport another Mirabel?

  1. Ridiculous comparison. Mirabel is not anywhere in the vicinity of a big city whereas Pickering is next door to Toronto. Ignore the special interest groups and that if you want Toronto to be a world-class City you need more Aviation capacity.

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