Responsible, balanced approach for the future of the Pickering Lands ends decades of uncertainty: Lands are being committed for an airport, economic development and a national urban park

PICKERING, ON, June 11, 2013 /CNW/ - A responsible, balanced approach was unveiled today by the Harper government for the development of the federally-owned Pickering Lands, which sets aside land for a future airport, some economic development and the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.

The announcement was made on the Pickering Lands by the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada.

"For residents of Durham Region and the GTA, the Harper government is ending decades of uncertainty about the future of the Pickering Lands," said Minister Flaherty. "There will be land for an airport, there will be urban and industrial development and there will be considerable green space on these lands. We are striking a responsible balance that will allow us to preserve our quality of life, while creating jobs and long-term prosperity in Durham Region and the GTA. With the Buttonville Airport closing, with Highway 407 being extended eastward, and now clarity around the Pickering Lands, Durham Region is well positioned to be a hub for transportation, business development and job creation."

"As we protect land for a future airport, a considerable tract of land will also be made available for job-creating development that will bring new opportunities to Pickering and Durham Region," said Minister Flaherty on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

As part of the Harper government's continuing commitment to plan for, protect and responsibly manage the federally owned Pickering Lands and promote the region's continued development and economic prosperity, Transport Canada plans to transfer nearly 5,000 acres from these lands to Parks Canada towards the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.

The new park will be more than 13 times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver.

"As announced in the 2011 Speech from the Throne and Economic Action Plan 2012, our government is working with provincial, regional, municipal, Aboriginal and community partners towards the creation of a national urban park in the Rouge Valley," said Minister Kent. "With federal and provincial commitments for lands, we are not one, but two steps closer to creating a true 'Canadian first' with Rouge National Urban Park - a place where nature, culture and agriculture can be protected, appreciated, experienced and supported."

In 2011, the Government of Canada released a Needs Assessment Study that indicated an additional airport in the region will be needed between 2027 and 2037 and that the Pickering lands would be a prime location for this airport. The government has now identified the southeast quadrant of the existing lands as the site to be protected for a future airport, the amount of land needed being smaller than originally thought.

Transport Canada will engage with stakeholders, businesses and local communities on the future of the remaining Pickering Lands. To provide your own feedback on the future management of the Pickering Lands, please visit us online.

For more information on the future Rouge National Urban Park:

Pickering Lands

The Pickering Lands encompass approximately 18,600 acres of land in Pickering, Markham and Uxbridge (56 kilometres northeast of downtown Toronto). The lands were acquired by the Government of Canada in 1972, to be retained for a possible future airport and to protect all future aviation options. Transport Canada is responsible for the day-to-day management and long-term planning of the federally owned Pickering Lands. 

Transport Canada released a Needs Assessment Study in 2011 that indicated an additional airport in the region will be needed between 2027 and 2037, when capacity at existing airports in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area is predicted to be reached.  At the time, the Government of Canada committed to developing a plan for the Pickering Lands.

Since 2011, the south-east quadrant of the existing lands has been identified as the site for a future airport. As a result, the western portion of this site (approximately 5,000 acres) will be transferred to Parks Canada to form part of the future Rouge National Urban Park. Transport Canada will follow a prescribed regulatory process to amend the Pickering Airport Site designation and the Pickering Airport Zoning Regulations. This process will include the engagement of stakeholders through formal public consultation. Transport Canada will also work in cooperation with the Province of Ontario to amend the Ministerial Zoning Orders to restrict development in the surrounding lands to activities compatible with a future airport. All regulatory work required to transfer lands for Rouge National Urban Park is expected to be completed by summer 2014.

In parallel, Transport Canada will engage with the province, regional and local municipalities, business interests and other stakeholders in the region to seek input on the future of the remaining Pickering Lands. Public information sessions will also take place on June 24 and 27, 2013 (please consult our Pickering Lands website for details). This input will help shape development and management plans for the future of the Pickering Lands, while protecting what is needed for future aviation purposes.

For more information, including a map of the lands, please visit our Pickering Lands website.

SOURCE: Transport Canada

For further information:

Kathleen Perchaluk
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Finance

Mary Ann Dewey-Plante
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of the Environment
and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Media Relations
Parks Canada

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This news release may be made available in alternative formats for persons living with visual disabilities.


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