A week ago I joined Mayor Tory and the leadership from the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA), which runs Toronto Pearson International Airport, to mark the 20th anniversary of this organization’s management of this international gateway.

Mississauga is proudly home to Pearson.  Together, we are city-building.

As Mayor, I know Pearson is more than just an airport. It is a thriving hub of transportation, travel, investment, economic development and job creation. This was the message I delivered during the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s recent 2016 Aviation Summit.

Pearson is accessible by five 400-series highways. It is now connected by a long overdue direct link to downtown Toronto, via the Union Pearson Express (UPX).

Pearson is Mississauga’s largest employer, with 41,000 people employed. The aerospace industry is responsible for 180,000 jobs throughout the country and contributes over $29 billion to Canada’s GDP.

Pearson is a local, national and international asset. Its success is central to building a stronger, more prosperous GTHA Region. All levels of government need to incorporate Pearson into their public policy and strategic planning goals.

Let’s begin with our commitment to regionally-integrated transit.

Increasing and improving the flow of airline traffic also means improving the traffic on the ground. Traffic congestion is costing the GTHA economy nearly $11 billion a year in lost economic development opportunities.

The Region of Peel has a Goods Movement Strategic Plan – which identifies 23 separate action items to improve the flow of traffic and the delivery of goods and services. A key action item calls for identifying and implementing access improvements to Pearson.

Whether directly, or indirectly, all roads and rails must lead to the airport. I support a vision that re-imagines Toronto Pearson as the Union Station of the western GTHA and Mississauga is ready to do its part to make this happen.

Mississauga is driving forward new public transit initiatives including the Hurontario Light Rail Transit (LRT) – the City’s largest-ever infrastructure investment – and the ongoing expansion of the MiWay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Transitway.

In 2017, MiWay’s Renforth Gateway station will open. The station will make travel to the airport and the Bloor-Danforth subway line easier from Highway 427.

In our conversations with Mayor Tory and the City of Toronto, we are exploring opportunities that will one day see SmartTrack further connected to transit that leads to Pearson and links to Mississauga’s Airport Corporate Centre.

Mississauga’s vision for all-day two-way Go Train service on the Milton and Kitchener GO Train lines with the Missing Link Plan will better move people throughout the GTHA and Southern Ontario. This will allow for greater access to the airport and the surrounding business area.

Mississauga brought together the municipalities of Toronto, Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, Milton, and Brampton to get our communities moving.

We initiated a business case study to build a new rail route that will connect the CP Line, just west of Trafalgar, with the already existing CN Line that runs through Brampton.

A project of this magnitude has national and international implications and is critical to Canada’s economy.  It is a continental gateway, allowing for the movement of large amounts of goods to and from the central Canadian market.

Planning, investing, and building a comprehensive transit network gives businesses the confidence they need – to choose Mississauga and the broader GTHA Region to invest, open new locations, expand service offerings and compete. And much of that network runs right through the airport.

Put simply, transportation policy is economic development policy.

Beyond our efforts with regionally-integrated transit, cities have come together and partnered with the provincial government to create a new regional marketing agency.

Our team of Economic Development Office professionals understand the importance of Pearson, North America’s second busiest airport, when selling Mississauga and the GTHA to the global business world.

The airport serves more than a dozen cargo airlines serving over 180 destinations and 41 million passengers annually. The airport is fitted with over 240 truck loading doors and a million square feet of on-airport warehouse space. Over $31 billion of goods are processed annually through Pearson’s Port of Entry.

It’s clear: what is good for Pearson’s economic prospects are good for Mississauga and the GTHA’s own economy.

In 2015 I joined Howard Eng, President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority at the arrival gates of Pearson to launch the Mississauga International Partnership Program Committee (MIPP) – a new working group that is leveraging Pearson and Mississauga’s international expertise, cultural diversity and networks to help our local economy reach its full potential.

Each day a wealth of economic opportunity flows from Canada’s largest airport into our community and Pearson is our gateway to the world.

As we look toward the future, with plans to build a more thriving and promising Mississauga and GTHA, the success of Pearson is central to transit planning, region-building and unleashing new economic development opportunities that will create good jobs, strengthen our quality of life and creating prosperity for years to come.