Motion to say no to Pickering Airport deferred to April 24

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Published March 9, 2023 at 4:58 pm

Pickering Council had an opportunity to send a clear signal to Ottawa at a special meeting Wednesday night with a motion on the floor to tell the federal government the City does not support an international airport on lands expropriated from farmers more than half a century ago.

Instead, Council decided to defer the motion another six weeks to the April 24 meeting of council, with the vote passing by a slim 4-3 margin.

Regional Councillor Linda Cook, who co-wrote the motion with Local Councillor Mara Nagy, told council Wednesday it was time to put the issue to bed after 51 long years.

“It’s a call to say enough already,” she said. “The amount of time and resources that have been spent on a vague dream have compromised the projects before us that are very real and very necessary.”

“Let’s get on with the business at hand.”

One of those issues at hand is the quest to get a stop on a planned high-frequency rail network running from Montreal to Toronto  in Pickering and Regional Councillor Maurice Brenner, who cast the other dissenting ballot in the vote to defer, allayed some concerns that not supporting a future airport would have any bearing on that decision.

Brenner said he met with former Transport Minister Marc Garneau and more recently, Infrastructure Minister Domenic LeBlanc and was assured the Pickering bid “would be taken seriously.”

Cook noted that the number one draw for Ottawa building an airport in north Pickering has always been jobs but she cautioned that those jobs would come at the expense of current jobs and businesses that contribute to Ontario’s $47 billion agri-food sector.

She also raised a line of questioning from the last meeting of Council (the motion was carried over from February 27 when the meeting went over curfew) that questioned her “integrity” and suggested she and Nagy were “in collusion with outside interests” on the issue, a possible dig against Mayor Kevin Ashe, a vocal supporter of the airport.

Ashe apologized “in case anything I said offended you” but carried the deciding vote on the deferral.

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