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432-00562 (Environment)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

To the House of Commons in Parliament assembled,

Whereas the Federal Lands in Pickering, Ontario, encompass Class 1 Ontario Greenbelt farmland and vital watersheds of the Oak Ridges Moraine;

And whereas the Federal Government in 2013 announced that the Lands would be used for an airport and economic development but not for agriculture;

And whereas there is no business case for an airport at Pickering, as evidenced by the fact that Pearson and Hamilton international airports are operating at, or far below, half-capacity and show no sign of reaching capacity in the foreseeable future;

And whereas ruling out agricultural uses on prime farmland — the land that feeds us — is unacceptable policy in the 21st century;

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled:

To rescind all plans for an airport and non-agricultural uses on the Federal Lands in Pickering; and to act, instead, to preserve the watersheds and agricultural land of this irreplaceable natural resource for the long-term benefit of all Canadians.

Response by the Minister of Transport

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Omar Alghabra

The Government of Canada is taking a balanced approach to the management of the Pickering Lands, ensuring environmental, aviation and economic demands are being met.

In June 2013, the Government of Canada announced that it would retain a smaller land area for retention for a potential future airport site in the southeast quadrant of the Pickering Lands. The Government concurrently announced that it was transferring approximately 4,700 acres of the Pickering Lands to Parks Canada Agency (PCA) for the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP). The transfer was completed in April 2015. Subsequently, on April 1, 2017, an additional 5,200 acres was transferred to PCA to further expand the RNUP. Transport Canada has retained approximately 8,700 acres for a potential future airport.

In 2015, Dr. Gary Polonsky, the Independent Advisor on the Economic Development of the Pickering Lands, was mandated by the Government to conduct targeted stakeholder consultations on the future development of the Pickering Lands, including a potential future airport. The Advisor’s report, as well as Transport Canada’s response to his recommendations, are publicly available online at the following links: and

In May 2016, Transport Canada awarded a contract to KPMG to undertake a Pickering Lands Aviation Sector Analysis, which will update supply and demand forecasts from the 2011 Needs Assessment Study for aviation traffic, develop options for the type and role of an airport in the regional airport system, and provide an assessment of the economic impact of these options.  The analysis was completed in 2019.

In 2018, Transport Canada completed an agricultural lease renewal initiative which provided greater certainty to farmers through longer lease tenures. As of April 1, 2018, all agricultural leases were updated to a 10-year lease term. This agricultural lease model has enabled lease holders to make sound business decisions by providing longer tenures and fixed rental rates. 

The timing of any decision concerning the development of a potential airport on the Pickering Lands will be influenced by many market and non-market factors beyond the exclusive consideration of passenger capacities at other airports within the Southern Ontario airports system. Such factors may include, but are not limited to: shifting airline business models, regional population growth and evolving demographics, infrastructure needs and investments, as well as the interests and needs of regional stakeholders.

There are no predetermined decisions based on results from the Aviation Sector Analysis, and no decisions or plans have been made to develop an airport on the Pickering Lands. The Aviation Sector Analysis would be one of many inputs into the development of a future recommendation for the Pickering Lands. Any decision on the development of the Pickering Lands will be made based on a sound business case and updated data on aviation demand and capacity.

Presented to the House of Commons
Jennifer O'Connell (Pickering—Uxbridge)
February 25, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00562)
Government response tabled
April 12, 2021
Photo - Jennifer O'Connell
Liberal Caucus

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.