Pickering city council is set to debate fast-tracking the construction of a local airport tonight but a local community group is speaking out against the plan.

Land over Landings, which was created in 2005 to stop developments on federal lands and secure their protection, listed reasons why they were against the decision in an email to media on Monday.

It noted that the North Pickering area does not currently have a representative on council because of the recent death of Coun. Rick Johnson, a long-time opponent of the airport.

The group argued it would be “disrespectful” to fast-track the decision knowing his position on the issue.

The group also said the fast-track would undermine three studies on the proposed airport lands, including one report that has not yet been released.

“No study in almost half a century has proven a business case for an airport,” the group said.

But Mayor David Ryan pointed to the region’s booming population and said the city’s needs has changed.

“It’s time we have some surety around the planning options that we have available here in our municipality,” he said. “Forty-five years ago quite frankly there was no need for an airport and they expropriated 18,000 acres. Pearson airport today is only 4,300, so you can understand why there was the concern at that point in time. But since then, the GTA has grown. Pickering and Durham region are growing and we have a very different dynamic than we did 45 years ago. And it’s time to have a decision.”