2020 is already shaping up to be a big year for the Durham region. It was announced on Friday that the area could finally see the construction of a long-proposed Pickering airport this year, a move that is expected to reignite the vicious battle between the area's politicians and residents.
Speculations on the airport have grown recently after local politicians began suggesting that the federal government is sitting on an updated report by consulting firm KPMG.
A document that reportedly outlines both the possibility and need for an additional Greater Toronto Area airport.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan, a strong supporter of the airport, claimed back in December that he’d received a letter from Marc Garneau, the federal minister of transport, who told him the report was currently in the hands of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
“We believe that it’s going to, from our perspective, give a positive report to move forward with the airport development,” Ryan told Durham Region.com.
“We’re getting broad political and business support that has recognized that the time has come.”
However, although politicians are hoping to jump-start construction of the airport, other members of the community are pushing back and calling on Ottawa to protect the land and kill the project.
"The threat of an airport on these lands has to be lifted, and the lands have to be protected in perpetuity," said Mary Delaney, chair of the volunteer group Land over Landings, according to CBC.
Delaney claims the proposed airport would be environmentally disastrous and thinks the large plot of land should instead be used for agriculture and farming.
"The overwhelming push, and it's aggressive, has been from our local municipal and regional government," she added.
If built, the new airport would help reduce congestion at Toronto Pearson Airport, which is currently the only airport of its size in the GTA.
Currently, Pearson airport can see up to 170,000 passengers passing through the airport gates a day.
In 1972, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's federal government acquired 18,600 acres of land in Pickering to build an airport.
The project has been on hold since, with a lot of the area now being used for farming.