A new airport in North Pickering just east of Toronto is now one of the centerpieces of the Durham Region’s draft official plan. While the plan must still be approved by the province, this is expected to be a nonissue. So, what are the next steps on the path to shovels in the ground on the airport site? Expect the federal government to take three steps in the next few years.
The first step is already underway – a final snapshot aviation capacity study. Canadabuys, a procurement arm of the federal government, has issued a request for proposal seeking an aviation consultant to evaluate all existing Pickering airport studies and analyses, and to recommend a roadmap for moving forward. The government wants the work to commence on June 1.
Unlike the ASA report released in 2020 that used pre-covid data and was full of what if scenarios, this final study will be reality focused. It is expected to be a snapshot of existing post Covid aviation growth and capacity in the GTA that either already exists or is funded in an existing airport master plan. It should take into account new net zero emissions aviation fuels and technology to estimate aviation traffic growth in the coming decade. It will focus on the industrial aspects of the new Pickering airport (as suggested by the ASA report) not just passenger capacity.
The second step will be a full inventory of the environmental cleanup required on the Pickering lands now leased out to an anointed few corporations and individuals. Expect it to recommend the immediate cancelation of a number of the land leases to enable an environmental cleanup and prep for development of the worst areas. This is expected to be included in or to dove-tail into the recently announced federal environmental assessment of the effects of development in and adjacent to the Rouge National Urban Park. Like the Pickering Airport lands, the majority of the RNUP is leased out to a few farmers and corporations. It will hopefully also try to answer the nagging question of abuse of the land over the years by industrial farm practices.
Third, with the data from the first two steps in hand, expect a Request For Information (RFI) announcement from the Minister of Transport to private industry interested in investing in the airport project.
Good governance of the publicly owned land asset, now worth billions of dollars, requires the fast assembly of accurate post-COVID data on aviation trends, capacity Supply-Demand projections, environmental issues and industry interest.
We are now only a few steps away from a greenlight to develop the federal Pickering lands including an airport.
The following like to the tender for study was posted and then removed a day later. A new one is expected
Request for Proposals: https://canadabuys.canada.ca/en/tender-opportunities/tender-notice/cb-4455-6134798