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e-2907 (Environment)

Initiated by Beverley Dowling from Whitby, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

  • 18,600 acres of prime farmland ("the Pickering Lands"), being mostly in Pickering, but also in Markham and Uxbridge, were expropriated by the Government of Canada in 1972 for the purpose of building an airport;
  • Since that time numerous studies have been commissioned to determine whether there is a need or a business case for such an airport;
  • The last such study, by KPMG, was released in March of 2020;
  • None of these studies has shown a need or business case for such an airport;
  • Much of the Pickering Lands has been transferred to Parks Canada, but much remains;
  • The Pickering Lands are prime farmland, for which there is a clear need;
  • While we are focused on the COVID-19 crisis, we cannot forget the climate change crisis; and
  • Stewardship of the Pickering Lands can be either a contribution to, or a failure of, Canada's commitment to the Paris Agreement.
We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to:
1. Designate Parks Canada as the custodian of all the Pickering Lands;
2. Mandate that Parks Canada become the agricultural custodian of the said lands; and
3. Mandate the use of long-term leases, to allow revitalization.

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 updated 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 Pickering Lands is also comprised of a considerable number of non-agricultural commercial land uses.  Transport Canada recognizes the importance of a diverse land use presence and specifically the role of commercial small businesses to advance economic development, employment and opportunity in the local community.  Transport Canada continues to manage the Pickering Lands respecting the Treasury Board guidelines with respect to the management of federal real property for highest and best use value.

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.


Open for signature
October 15, 2020, at 6:39 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
January 13, 2021, at 6:39 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Jennifer O'Connell (Pickering—Uxbridge)
February 25, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00561)
Government response tabled
April 12, 2021
Photo - Jennifer O'Connell
Liberal Caucus