The government of Canada will need to build a new airport 50 kilometres north east of Toronto in the next 16 to 26 years to cope with expected traffic growth in the region, according to a new study.
The Pickering Lands Needs Assessment Study (2010) released this week by Transport Canada found that the Greater Golden Horseshoe area –which is centered on Toronto – would require an additional airport to meet the future needs for passenger, cargo, and recreational traffic over the next 25 years.
A 18,600-acre site in Pickering Ontario has already been chosen as the location for the new gateway.
The land was acquired by the government in 1972 for the proposed project, however the controversial facility has not yet been built, after the government decided to expand Toronto Pearson International Airport instead.
According to Transport for Canada the future development of a new airport would depend on the development of the existing airports as well as population growth in the area.
Therefore the study examined the capacities and traffic volumes in the system of airports in Southern Ontario – including the Greater Golden Horseshoe – to determine whether they could reasonably accommodate future traffic volumes.
Transport for Canada predicted that Toronto Pearson will likely reach a maximum capacity of 54mppa to 60mppa between 2027 and 2037, up from the current 32 million.
Meanwhile, John C. Munro International airport in Hamilton and Waterloo International Airport could eventually handle a maximum of 10.5 million and 6.9 million annual passengers, respectively.
When Pearson reaches its capacity the need for a new airport in Pickering will mostly depend on whether Hamilton and Waterloo are expanded to take on extra traffic.
The study concluded that the likely development of Hamilton and Waterloo as reliever airports to take up some of the traffic growth in the region meant that the earliest a new airport would be needed would be 2027.
It added, however, that this timeline could be delayed by a number of circumstances including “enhanced development” at Hamilton and Waterloo airports, as well as slower than forecasted traffic growth.
As a result, the timeline for construction of a new airport within the Greater Golden Horseshoe ranges from 2027-2037, Transport for Canada said.
Meanwhile, although the study said that an additional airport will not be needed within the Greater Golden Horseshoe until 2027 at the earliest, it recommended that the land be kept and protected for future aviation needs.
It said: “it is inconceivable that a large parcel of land comparable in size to the Pickering Lands could be amassed again in the future. Furthermore even if an alternate site could be identified, the financial and social costs associated with such an endeavour would likely render it implausible.”