In 2019, Pearson was named North America’s most internationally connected airport, with 163 routes and over 50 million passengers annually. This is a far cry from where Canada’s busiest airport began.
From a rural farmer’s field in 1937, Pearson has soared to the heart of Ontario’s economy and Canada’s story on the global stage. Over 300 companies operate at Pearson, and they employ over 50,000 workers. Combined with secondary and tertiary job creation, Pearson is directly responsible for over 300,000 jobs and 6% of Ontario’s GDP.
“If you agree that an organization is part of a community ecosystem, you know it doesn’t exist on its own,” said Hillary Marshall, Vice President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). “You can’t ignore your impact on your community or what opportunities you have to make your community more vital, to give people access to more prosperity.”
In 2018, average commuting time in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was rated as the world’s sixth worst. Drivers spend hours in traffic and road congestion keeps valuable cargo from Pearson’s runways stuck on the highway. Research by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) has shown that in just a few decades, road congestion in and around Toronto could get 20-30% worse. The GTAA has a sustainable alternative.
There’s no other location in the West GTA that offers the same potential to connect the broader region and have the greatest impact on reducing road congestion. That’s why the GTAA is leading the charge for improved multimodal transit in the region, anchored by a new major transit hub on airport grounds.
“Toronto Pearson is the second-largest employment zone in Canada,” explained Robyn Connelly, Director of Community Relations, GTAA. “But when you look at the neighorhoods around us, they’re so underserved that they face some of the biggest barriers to employment and opportunity in the country.”
While ensuring reduced road congestion and increased climate action, this innovative new infrastructure is also a promise of upward income mobility and access to new jobs and services, helping the entire community to take flight.
Being a part of the community ecosystem
At the same time as it plans for transit infrastructure, the GTAA works tirelessly at the grassroots level to support programming, research and advocacy for residents of the airport area. The GTAA’s community investment program, the Propeller Project, invests in community-building initiatives that give residents the skills and connections they need for more meaningful employment.
In 2015, thousands of Syrian refugees arrived at Pearson as part of the Canadian airlift of families fleeing conflict. One of many treasured community organizations that the GTAA has supported is the Newcomer Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that invites Syrian refugee women together to cook Syrian meals. The women of Newcomer Kitchen sell the food that they cook, covering the cost of their work and earning them well above a minimum wage. By building social inclusion and a forum to share their Syrian culture, the Newcomer Kitchen has empowered new Canadians and given them fresh opportunity in their new home.