Toronto won’t need a new airport on the Pickering lands until at least 2038 according to a report released last week by Transport Canada. The KPMG Aviation Sector Analysis says Pearson and Billy Bishop Airports won’t reach capacity until then and that a new study on the already-50-year-old Pickering Airport proposal should be done in 2036. The findings have made both sides in the bitter dispute over the future of tens of thousands of acres of land northeast of Toronto claim victory as the issue gets kicked down the road for several political generations.
Proponents of the airport, a massive multi-billion-dollar project, say the study shows the need for the airport and that it’s not too soon to start the process. “First, the question was ‘if’ an airport was needed,” said Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan. “That question has been answered – there will be a need for an airport. Then the question was ‘when.’ That has been answered today – we need to get ready for 2036.” But Mary Delaney, a longtime opponent and spokeswoman for Land Over Landings, said that in 16 years the true value of the vast swath of fertile farmland will become clear. “There’s going to be less and less of a need for an airport as the years go by and more and more of a need for fresh, safe, local food, water, clean air all those things,” Delaney said. The federal government hasn’t commented on the report.