Federal Minister of Transport, David Collenette, recently stated that there will be no decision to construct the Pickering Airport within the present mandate of the federal government. However, if a decision is made to construct the Pickering Airport, it will be constructed and operated by the same organization that now operates Pearson International Airport at Toronto.
The Minister, making an announcement on April 5, 2001, stated that an agreement had been reached between the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) and Toronto Airways Ltd. to fund the continued operation of the Buttonville Airport. The Buttonville Airport's continued operation had been in jeopardy since the Ontario government withdrew a subsidy in 1999. The Buttonville Airport is a small regional airport located northeast of Toronto. It has served an important segment of air transportation requirements in the Greater Toronto Area since 1960. It is Ontario's third largest airport serving primarily small private aircraft. However, it does not have the capacity to handle large planes and there are limited opportunities for expansion.
What was of greater interest to the residents of nearby Pickering is that the continued operation of Buttonville Airport means that a major international airport proposed for a large block of land near Pickering will not be required for many years. Pickering is located east of Toronto. The Pickering Airport proposal has been a source of local controversy for many years partly due to the large number of expropriations that were undertaken when the lands were acquired and partly due to present day environmental concerns.
The Pickering Airport project was first announced in 1972. The federal government later acquired 18,600 acres of land for this proposed major international airport before the project was cancelled. However, the recent announcement stated that if an airport is constructed on the Pickering lands in the future it will serve as a smaller airport to relieve the demand on the Pearson International Airport. It will not serve as another international airport. The GTAA had recently expressed interest in developing the Pickering Airport as originally intended.