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Published on Monday, May 15, 2017

Local MPs hail new regional airport

Mayor says flight paths must change

Local MPs hail new regional airport
More air traffic over Oakville ahead
Metroland file photo
By Marta Marychuk, Oakville Beaver

With air travel demand forecasted to outpace the current capacity of regional airports, a group of Ontario airports have launched the Southern Ontario Airport Network (SOAN).

The new airport network was announced Tuesday, May 9, at the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport by Howard Eng, chief executive officer of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA).

Air travel in southern Ontario is expected to reach approximately 110 million passengers by the early 2040s, according to SOAN.

Currently, Toronto Pearson is the second largest airport in North America in terms of inbound international traffic, according to the GTAA. Last year, 44 million passengers travelled through the airport and 500,000 tonnes of cargo was transported across the world.

Members of SOAN include: Toronto Pearson International Airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, Lake Simcoe Regional Airport, London International Airport, Oshawa Executive Airport, Niagara District Airport, Peterborough Airport, Region of Waterloo Airport and Windsor International Airport.

Transport Canada, the department within the government of Canada responsible for developing regulations, policies and services of transportation in Canada, and Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation are also contributors to SOAN’s work.

The new network is drawing support from local members of parliament, who approve of the investment in transportation infrastructure.

In an interview from Ottawa, Oakville North — Burlington MP Pam Damoff said SOAN would be a good thing for southern Ontario. She said the new network would integrate transportation in this area and help to reduce traffic congestion — especially for people who are employed at the airport.

Although there is no reason to believe that the new network will increase airport noise in the Oakville — Burlington area, Damoff said, “We still need to deal with the noise issue.”

Damoff said she has a lot of confidence in Helios, the consultant hired to conduct an independent review of airspace for flights arriving and departing Toronto Pearson Airport.

Helios was hired by Nav Canada (a privately run, nonprofit corporation that owns and operates Canada’s civil air navigation system) in 2016, in response to complaints from Oakville residents of air traffic noise.

Damoff said she has brought forward concerns raised by residents during a community consultation Helios held in Oakville earlier this year, to federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, to ensure these concerns are addressed.

Oakville MP John Oliver said the government recognizes that a strong, integrated and modern transportation system is fundamental to Canada’s continuing economic performance and competitiveness, in a statement to the Oakville Beaver.

He also believes the investment in ground transportation will help reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions — and align with the government’s commitment to sustainable economic growth.

However, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton had some concerns about the new airport network.


“It is unclear what impact this announcement will have on noise pollution caused by air traffic over parts of our community, if any,” said Burton, in a statement. “Council is supportive of any changes that improve service for our residents while minimizing air noise within surrounding communities.”

“The heart of the air noise issue remains the Standard Terminal Arrival Route (STAR), which is set by the federal aerospace regulator Nav Canada. The changes recommended to Pearson’s STAR recommended by citizens’ groups like RANGO (Residents' Air Noise Group of Oakville) are the surest way to minimize the noise impact on surrounding communities.”

Among the short, medium and long-term goals of SOAN are:

• Completing an economic analysis of the impact SOAN will have for the region and the province;

• Understanding the ground transportation needs in southern Ontario and advocating for investment in ground transportation improvements that will reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions; and,

• Developing best-in-class strategies for responsible and sustainable airport growth including community engagement and noise management.

In conjunction with the launch event, SOAN released a statement of intent that emphasizes planning for growth in a responsible way is essential; without it, the region could potentially leave $15 million in GDP on the table and force more than 20 million passengers to look elsewhere for air travel needs.

The members of SOAN say they recognize that the region has the potential to meet the growing demand for air travel. Through responsible planning, SOAN says it will ensure the region is well placed to keep the jobs and economic benefits of air service demand in southern Ontario.

The full statement of intent is available online at: https://www.soairportnetwork.com/.

“Our forecast tells us that by 2043, aviation demand will be around 110 million passengers,” said Eng. “When we look at the current capacity among airports in the region, we would be leaving 20 million passengers ‘on the table’ if we don’t take action now. Thankfully, we have a network of great airports who have come together to start brainstorming ways to capitalize on this incredible opportunity.”
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News

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