On May 27th, 2019, at a Toronto Region Board of Trade event, the municipal leaders of Southern Ontario came together to solve a problem. After a short video message from the Honorable Marc Garneau, federal Minister of Transport, Howard Eng, CEO of the GTAA (Greater Toronto Airports Authority) described the problem. Pearson airport is now a slot-constricted airport and can no longer be all things to all people.
Mr. Eng urged existing airports to work together to maximize the utilization of existing infrastructure, but then went further.
Mr. Eng, said: “A new airport in Pickering will be needed. We need to start planning, developing and marketing the airport, the community and the businesses around the community.”
A subset of the region’s airports already works together under SOAN (Southern Ontario Airport Network) but these airports alone are not enough. SOAN does not include privately-owned and operated Buttonville Airport, one of Toronto’s busiest General Aviation airports. Most importantly, it does not include the soon-to-be built Pickering Airport. Mr. Eng highlighted that global passenger traffic will double to 8 billion by the early 2040s.
The keynote speaker, Mayor Crombie of Mississauga, then announced the creation of the “Southern Ontario Mayor & Chair’s Council on Aerospace.” She then used the abbreviation of SOMAC, which she later referred to as “Southern Ontario Municipal Aerospace Council”. SOMACs goal is to coordinate local accessible aviation capacity and to attract and coordinate investment in the aerospace industry for the Southern Ontario region.
Crombie, as SOMAC chair, is joined by mayors and regional chairs of more than a dozen municipalities that already have (or in the case of Pickering, soon will have) local accessible aviation infrastructure. The Chair of Durham region and the Mayor of Pickering are important members of SOMAC.
Mayor Crombie said: “We also need to start thinking differently, beyond just the growth and success of our airports, but the strength of the employment area surrounding them and how we can work together to advance the economic interests of our cities and our region.”
The congestion is building both on our roads and in the air. If not addressed now our region’s growth will overwhelm our existing infrastructure. Overwhelming support and enthusiasm is now building for Pickering Airport.