Has the Region of Waterloo International Airport outgrown itself?

Not as far as runways and terminal facilities, according to airport staff, but when it comes to space for small planes, expansion is becoming a hot-button issue.

“We are noticing a lot more of the smaller general aviation aircraft showing up here,” says airport manager Chris Wood.

That increase in personal aircraft is due to a ripple effect from other changes in the southern Ontario aviation scene.

Markham’s Buttonville Airport is slated to shut down in the near future, and the Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island is ramping up commercial activity.

Combine those two factors, and the relatively tranquil airport near Breslau looks inviting for many aviation hobbyists.

“As soon as they announced Buttonville was closing, I was looking for a new home,” says pilot David White, who recently moved to a hangar at Region of Waterloo.

“People are rushing out to find a new place to keep their airplane and this is a great place for it.”

Wood says he’s happy for the business, but as a result, hangars are filling up much more quickly than anticipated.

“At last count, there were about 300 airplanes based at Buttonville, and they all need to find a home” he tells CTV.

“Even if 10 or 15 per cent of them end up coming to the Region of Waterloo, that’s a significant amount of hangar space that’s required.”

Only one of the 17 lots of land at the airport allocated for small aircraft hangars still has space for new tenants.

That has officials working on a 20-year plan for the airport, with expansion a definite possibility.

“We’ve kept our options open with some neighbours who have expressed potential to maybe sell some property,” says Wood.

The master plan won’t be complete until late 2014 or early 2015.