WHITBY, ONT.—While it’s unknown what the future holds for the Pickering Lands and whether planes will be taking off and landing at a new airport, federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt recently met with community groups, regional and municipal leaders, and business stakeholders to discuss the government’s next steps.
The Pickering Lands are located 56 kilometres northeast of downtown Toronto and encompass lands in Pickering, Markham and Uxbridge, explains a release.
In 2013, the government announced a "balanced approach for the development of the federally owned Pickering Lands," which involved setting aside a portion of land for a potential airport. It also entailed transferring nearly 5,000 acres to Parks Canada for the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.
In April 2015 the transfer to Parks Canada was completed and on July 11 Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the transfer of an additional 5,200 acres of the Pickering Lands for the expansion of Rouge National Urban Park. This will increase the boundaries of Canada’s first national urban park by more than 36 per cent.
As a result, Transport Canada is keeping around 9,600 acres in the southeast sector of the lands for economic development, which includes the potential for a airport.
Raitt announced during her meeting that she intends to name, in the coming months, an independent advisor who will meet with local interests on the potential economic development opportunities around a future airport. She also highlighted details of an upcoming publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, of regulations for airport zoning and site designation to reflect the reduced Pickering Lands footprint due to the transfer of land into Rouge National Urban Park
"It has long been the government’s commitment that any decisions on these lands will be informed by the interests and the needs of regional stakeholders," said Raitt in a statement. "I was pleased to hear the views of our key stakeholders on the progress we have made and to explore what role local interests could play in the future."
According to a release, Transport Canada is "committed to an open and transparent process concerning the future development of the Pickering Lands site." No decisions have been made on the development or timing of a future airport.