Pickering a Better Alternative to Oshawa

November 18, 2019

East of Toronto, plans are progressing to build a new international airport in Pickering on a land reserve set aside for that purpose more than four decades ago. Those opposing the project have consistently suggested that expanding and retrofitting a small general aviation airport in the nearby city of Oshawa is a better idea. This is a fantasy, a diversionary tale from the few who profit from the status quo to misdirect and hoodwink our political leaders. The Pickering airport development process is expected to launch with the release of the KPMG report in 2020.

The largest aircraft currently based at Oshawa are several special use DC3 aircraft. These aircraft are 1/10 the size of many of the aircraft expected to use Pickering Airport.

Contrasting the two airports is a study in the extreme
, making it easy to debunk Oshawa Airport as an alternative to Pickering. The Pickering airport will be many kilometers away from homes and businesses,nestled in a carefully set green space. The current plan features three runways, all designed to take a wide body jet aircraft. The airport will be serviced by the 407 highway, a rail line and will have access to the same pipeline that sends jet fuel to Toronto’s Pearson airport. Thanks to the Pickering Airport Site Zoning Regulations (PASZR) our federal governments far-sighted planning has set limits on development activities under flight approach paths and around the airport. This is to both protect local residents from aircraft noise and to protect the airport from urban sprawl edging south-east from Stouffville.

The Oshawa Airport is further to the east of Toronto, is tiny in comparison to the proposed Pickering Airport and is land-locked by homes and businesses. It features one runway half the length needed by a wide body jet aircraft and a second runway one fourth of the length needed. It was built as a general aviation airport to support small aircraft. It is much further from downtown Toronto, and lacks the transportation connectivity with no opportunity for rail or highway access.

On the RNAV 30 into Oshawa airport the approach goes right over the Darlington Nuclear Plant.

the Oshawa airport to handle bigger jets would require the expropriation of up to a thousand acres of prime Oshawa real estate from home and business owners. This billion-dollar disruption would just be the beginning. The Oshawa airport would require a total replacement of all of its infrastructure. The existing runways will need to be replaced in order to take the weight ten times heavier than what they are currently handling. The terminal would need to be replacedwith a passenger terminal able to handle the 16 million passengers a year projected for Pickering. The parking lots will need to be expanded to accommodate the projected passengers.  Nearby roads would need to be widened, public transit added. 

The tear-down and rebuilding of the Oshawa airport would cost billions more than building a new airport in Pickering. Unlike the Pickering airport, the political uncertainty around land expropriation and other unknown costs of a rebuild would scare away the prospective private investors now eyeing Pickering and leave the taxpayers holding the bill. 

Urban sprawl from nearby Stouffville is eating south east towards the Pickering airport lands. Which is more important, economic efficiency, travel times and carbon emissions for millions of air travelers, or new million dollar homes for a privileged few?

Shutting down the Oshawa airport during the rebuild would displace current aviation traffic that now makes Oshawa’s one of Canada’s busiest GA airports. With the Toronto aviation capacity crunch projected to become the worst in North America, it’s unlikely these displaced GA businesses, generating $100 million a year in economic activity, would survive.  Think about the big dig along Eglington Avenue in Toronto, to accommodate the future LRT link.  Local businesses have seen the impact of multi-year projects, causing bankruptcies.  

After years of disruption and construction Oshawa residents would then wake up to a new noise reality. The Pickering Airport has a Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF) which will be well removed from population centres. Rebuilding the Oshawa airport to handle traffic intended for the Pickering airport would result in a NEF well above the level recommended for homes and schools, blanketing half the city of Oshawa.  

A draft noise profile for commercial passenger jet traffic at a rebuilt Oshawa airport.

Sticking with the well thought out plan to build a new airport in Pickering is a much better solution than rebuilding
the Oshawa Airport. It will be less expensive to build Pickering, will enable the leveraging of private capital and will be a better airport when it is finished. Perhaps most important of all, the Pickering Airport will be less disruptive, both during construction and once operational, to the citizens of Oshawa and Durham region.

 By the way, once Pickering airport opens Oshawa airport does not need to close. 


13 thoughts on “Pickering a Better Alternative to Oshawa

  1. “Contrasting the two airports”. Say what? Say contrasting oshawa to a field of dreams. )))
    “Well thought out plan” ..no ..Sydney Aus. 6 B $ and that is just 1 runway.
    Too small ..no see Toronto island and London city UK?
    Viable? No see comparison toronto landing fees to all other ca&us airports ..10x ++
    “16 million passengers”. ..no. .mirabel….see M T unused , decaying terminal. buildings.
    “nestled in a carefully set green space.” Wow laughing really hard…

    1. Mirabel is 65 km from Montreal city hall, almost an hours drive. Pickering is 49km from Toronto city hall and just over half an hours drive. Pickering will also be serviced by a GO Train link. Toronto is growing far faster than Montreal and Pearson is stretched to the breaking point.

        1. May I recommend google maps. 1 hour Mirabel to downtown Montreal, 39 minutes from The Pickering airport entrance off ramp on the 407 to downtown Toronto In rush hour traffic. Location, location … what’s that third one, right location. That said, a better freeway connection for Mirabel to downtown Montreal is now needed as Mirabel sees a significant increase in traffic. It is now the home of Airbus and the A220 assembly. Bell helicopters, Pratt and Whitney and others that form the core of the Canadian aviation industry.

      1. Could you cite the reference for a GO train link from Pickering Airport? Also, curiously absent from these airport discussions is any commitment from any major airline to use this new airport.

    2. Somebody is confusing a rant with a thought!! But it takes all kinds of interactions to get things done. Mark is on the right track. Just hope for all our benefits and the good of the whole GTA .that his farsighted ideas can be implemented soonest rather than later.

  2. Please see
    Mark has been supporting Pickering since it was a 6 runway airport with one at 23,000ft and 3 others at 18,000 ft . Nobody anywhere else has or had that.
    Canada has a 100 billion $ bill coming due on ships & planes for the military now.
    Pickering @ 10B$ is not affordable and is redundant. Toronto has no real capacity limit, ever.
    Mark’s source information is the GTAA / Hillary Marshal / TBOT, and company ..propaganda machine. Look her up on Twitter. Their planning was wrong in 2004, in 2007, in 2011 and 2017. Transport canada said so in 2015, and will again. Count on it. If not, pray.

    1. Wow, Where are you getting this stuff? Just making it up on the fly?

      It’s all wrong, total misinformation!
      There has never been a design with anything longer than 13,000 ft and that one got scratched 40 years ago. I suspect you have confused the PASZR with a real runway design.

      The largest project estimate for the project is $2.9 billion ( Durham Gateway) and 2/3 of that is private funding. The only people that have ever spread a 10 billion figure is Land Over Landings. It’s not a credible figure.

      Just an FYI, The Gateway business plan has a solid in the black ROI consistent with other major North America airports.

      As to the GTAA, I am fairly sure that they don’t like us for our constant questions and challenges to technical issues such as how limited runway capacity is part of their horrible on time performance.
      We also remind them of facts, such as how they have consistently low balled their own growth estimates.

      That said We are respectful of our political leaders and the GTAA employees and the hard job they have to do.

  3. Where?
    2004-10-20 Canada Gazette SOR/DOC/2004-212 part 4 Description of strip surfaces page 1467 para a’..
    . Runway 09-27. 6947.52 m….. =. 22,793.7008 ft .. close enough?? see others.

    Significantly revised in 2015.. and the land sale was the result.
    the maps section of the Land Over Landings web site has the historical maps.
    re landing fees. .. see

    pages 14 /15 as I recall.

    Sorry for the junk post.. early am on an iPad.

    1. The Canada Gazette published and updates the PASZR, that’s the Pickering Airport Site Zoning Regulations. These are zoning regulations defending areas on the Airport lands, as well as approach areas, from developed.

      The reference you mentioned is a base line reference that is used in relation to a slope projected outwards enabling the imposing of development restrictions on owners of property adjacent and in the vicinity of the airport lands and under a potential approach path.

      This is not an airport design. It is simply Trying to restrict areas from development awaiting a final design.

Comments are closed.