Saturday, December 23, 2006

First Mirabel, then Pickering?

The Harper government has announced that 4,450 hectares of land expropriated to create Mirabel Airport will be sold with priority given to existing renters of the land, most of whom owned it prior to the forced sale in 1969. The mayor of Mirabel is unhappy as he was looking to expand the industrial sites at the airport but that is something he can take up with the new owners. The Kanesetake Mohawks have filed a land claim on the land - I'm going to pass over that one because I don't understand how indigenous land claims work in Canada, and the bigger problem is that it seems to me nobody else does either.

Mirabel itself still exists as a cargo airport and occasionally a film set. Apparently Montreal Airport Authority covets it for flights between Dorval-Trudeau and Mirabel (a distance of 32km as a noisy old cargo plane flies) which seems environmentally dubious to put it mildly - is this the hand of Bombardier who still maintain a factory at Mirabel?

The next question is what to do about the federally expropriated land at Pickering, Ontario? At least no airport has been built there yet unlike Mirabel, but despite local opposition the Greater Toronto Airport Authority seems to want to push on with the plan to create a "reliever airport" in the middle of what is currently rented farmland.

A similar sale-back in Pickering with a concurrent expansion of Hamilton Airport (most importantly its transit links), the improvement of ground links to Pearson allowing the reduction of regional flights to Kingston and London and the retention of Toronto City Centre, Oshawa and Buttonville Airports could steal a march on the Liberal MP in Pickering-Ajax who is also opposed to the airport development and make the next election competitive assuming the Tories don't select another wack-job as their candidate.
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