Markham’s Buttonville Airport to close this fall

By Kyle Hocking

The years-long debate over the future of Markham’s Buttonville Airport is finally coming to an end.

Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport is planning to stop all operations effective November 30, 2023.

In a letter addressed to the airport’s staff and tenants and obtained by CityNews, Derek Sifton, President of Torontair, said a lease agreement which has allowed the airport to continue operating is expiring.

“Today we would like to announce that the Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport will cease operations on November 30, 2023” Sifton said.

“Since 2010, the airport has been operating under a land lease with Cadillac Fairview which has now reached its natural expiry, and they may look to redevelop the airport site at some time in the future.”

The letter goes on to thank the airport staff, contractors, and tenants for their loyalty and dedication.

When reached by phone on Thursday, Sifton confirmed the planned closure of the airport to CityNews.

CityNews has reached out to Million Air, a large aviation company which operates at Buttonville, for its thoughts on the closure but has not heard back.

Airport the target of developers for decades

Rumours about the airport’s closing have circulated for many years.

In 2009, the Sifton family, which had owned the airport at the time for more than 40 years, announced plans to redevelop the site. In 2010, Cadillac Fairview entered into a joint venture with developers to purchase the property.

But difficulties in planning for the future of the site led to delays in Buttonville’s closing.

In 2018, the airport was so close to ceasing operations that Nav Canada, which operates the country’s air traffic control and civil air navigation system, decided to remove staff from the control tower at the airport.

But later that year, it was announced that Buttonville Airport would continue to operate until 2023, when the land lease agreement with Cadillac Fairview would expire.

Several incidents at airport through the years

During its lifespan, there have been several notable incidents at Buttonville Airport. In 2010 alone, six people died in three separate accidents.

On May 25, 2010, a pilot and passenger were killed when their small, 4-seater plane struck the roof of a building on Woodbine Avenue about 500 metres from the airport. A fire in the building was extinguished by Markham fire fighters and no one on the ground was injured.

plane lands on 407

In October, 2021, a pilot was forced to land on Highway 407 after their engine failed after take off from Buttonville Airport. (Hugues Cormier/CityNews)

Less than a month later on June 20, 2010, a lone pilot was killed when their 4-seater Cessna 172 crashed on Vogell Road just northwest of the airfield.

On November 18, 2010, a flight carrying an instructor from the flight school at Seneca College, which previously operated out of Buttonville, along with two students lost their lives when their airplane crashed in a field in Pickering.

More recently, a pilot that had taken off from Buttonville was forced into an emergency landing on Highway 407 near Woodbine when their engine failed in October 2021. No one was injured in that incident.

This past January, a pilot was able to walk away when their T67 Firefly aircraft suffered an engine failure on takeoff and crashed onto 16th Avenue just north of the airport.

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