Save the Duffins Creek Wetland

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Consultation has concluded

On October 20, 2020, the Hon. Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, granted a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) to allow Durham Live to pave over 57 acres of Provincially Significant Wetland south of the 401 at Bayly Street and Squires Beach Road in Pickering (adjacent to the new Pickering Casino).

If allowed to proceed, fifty percent of the Lower Duffins Creek Wetland Complex will be filled in to accommodate a massive warehouse development – a warehouse that can be built anywhere.

As it is one of GTA’s largest remaining wetlands on the north shore of Lake Ontario and it plays an integral part in our ecological system, its destruction will have lasting environmental impacts. It has been recognized for its significance for over 20 years.

However, the fight is not over. In order for the development to proceed, the wetland must be declassified, but there is no precedent to follow because it is wrong.

Watch Now: Save Ontario's wetlands webinar hosted by Environmental Defence and the Canadian Environmental Law Association - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raqlwnDE--s

While the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) does not support the development, it is being urged by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to seek compensation from the developer to offset its destruction. In reality, we know we will never be able to replace this wetland. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

To ensure this project is fast-tracked, changes to the Conservation Authority Act (CAA) were introduced by Hon. Rod Phillips on November 5, 2020 through the Budget Bill (229). The changes take away the powers of conservation authorities to say no to destructive developments, giving full authority to Hon. John Yakabuski, Minister of MNRF.

We are asking:

  • Premier Doug Ford to intervene and stop this destruction before it’s too late.
  • Hon. Steve Clark to void the MZO.
  • Hon. Rod Phillips to remove Schedule 6 from Budget Bill (229).
  • Hon. Jeff Yurek to reconsider the proposed CAA changes.
  • Hon. John Yakabuski to not declassify the DC wetland.

What is an MZO?

An MZO is a tool in Ontario's Planning Act and allows the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to make a ruling on how a piece of land is to be used in the province, with no chance of appeal by municipalities, citizens or environmental groups.

Why is Ajax concerned about/opposed to an MZO for a property in Pickering?

  • TOA already has significant and unresolved traffic concerns with the Durham Live development, including five urgent projects that continue to be postponed. These projects are Brock Road and Bayly Street, Squires Beach Road and Bayly Street, Church Street South and Bayly Street, Westney Road and Bayly Street, and Notion Road / Squires Beach overpass.
  • Nevertheless, we continued to work with all of the parties in hopes of finding resolutions to longstanding and new traffic concerns, as well as significant environmental issues.
  • The MZO effectively overruled an existing OMB/LPAT decision for the Durham Live site, wasting $1m of Ajax taxpayer’s money.
  • The MZO allows for 4M sq ft of warehousing space (in addition to 1,650 residences and commercial) on a Provincially Significant Wetland.

With the MZO approved, what is at stake for this property?

  • Significant traffic congestion and delays.
  • Complete removal of 57 acres of key natural heritage and hydrological features, including Provincially Significant Wetland. Further, the landowner’s planning consultant has stated that the project would result in the removal of the wetland and upland habitats in their entirety.
  • No public consultation or mechanism to provide feedback (including those in nearby historic Pickering Village, or those with interest in protecting significant green spaces).

Who made the decision?

  • There are many decision points for this project, including the developer (Pickering Developments Inc.), the signatory parties to the Development Agreement (City of Pickering, Region of Durham, and developer), the TRCA, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

What has the Town done to oppose the MZO?

What are other people saying?

  • Environmental Defence co-signed a letter with Ontario Nature, Wilderness Committee, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, and Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition to Ministers Clark and Yakabuski opposing the reclassification of the wetlands and the MZO
  • The Green Party of Ontario leader MPP Mike Schreiner asked a question about this issue in the Legislature on October 29. The GPO also released a statement

What should concerned residents do?

On October 20, 2020, the Hon. Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, granted a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) to allow Durham Live to pave over 57 acres of Provincially Significant Wetland south of the 401 at Bayly Street and Squires Beach Road in Pickering (adjacent to the new Pickering Casino).

If allowed to proceed, fifty percent of the Lower Duffins Creek Wetland Complex will be filled in to accommodate a massive warehouse development – a warehouse that can be built anywhere.

As it is one of GTA’s largest remaining wetlands on the north shore of Lake Ontario and it plays an integral part in our ecological system, its destruction will have lasting environmental impacts. It has been recognized for its significance for over 20 years.

However, the fight is not over. In order for the development to proceed, the wetland must be declassified, but there is no precedent to follow because it is wrong.

Watch Now: Save Ontario's wetlands webinar hosted by Environmental Defence and the Canadian Environmental Law Association - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raqlwnDE--s

While the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) does not support the development, it is being urged by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to seek compensation from the developer to offset its destruction. In reality, we know we will never be able to replace this wetland. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

To ensure this project is fast-tracked, changes to the Conservation Authority Act (CAA) were introduced by Hon. Rod Phillips on November 5, 2020 through the Budget Bill (229). The changes take away the powers of conservation authorities to say no to destructive developments, giving full authority to Hon. John Yakabuski, Minister of MNRF.

We are asking:

  • Premier Doug Ford to intervene and stop this destruction before it’s too late.
  • Hon. Steve Clark to void the MZO.
  • Hon. Rod Phillips to remove Schedule 6 from Budget Bill (229).
  • Hon. Jeff Yurek to reconsider the proposed CAA changes.
  • Hon. John Yakabuski to not declassify the DC wetland.

What is an MZO?

An MZO is a tool in Ontario's Planning Act and allows the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to make a ruling on how a piece of land is to be used in the province, with no chance of appeal by municipalities, citizens or environmental groups.

Why is Ajax concerned about/opposed to an MZO for a property in Pickering?

  • TOA already has significant and unresolved traffic concerns with the Durham Live development, including five urgent projects that continue to be postponed. These projects are Brock Road and Bayly Street, Squires Beach Road and Bayly Street, Church Street South and Bayly Street, Westney Road and Bayly Street, and Notion Road / Squires Beach overpass.
  • Nevertheless, we continued to work with all of the parties in hopes of finding resolutions to longstanding and new traffic concerns, as well as significant environmental issues.
  • The MZO effectively overruled an existing OMB/LPAT decision for the Durham Live site, wasting $1m of Ajax taxpayer’s money.
  • The MZO allows for 4M sq ft of warehousing space (in addition to 1,650 residences and commercial) on a Provincially Significant Wetland.

With the MZO approved, what is at stake for this property?

  • Significant traffic congestion and delays.
  • Complete removal of 57 acres of key natural heritage and hydrological features, including Provincially Significant Wetland. Further, the landowner’s planning consultant has stated that the project would result in the removal of the wetland and upland habitats in their entirety.
  • No public consultation or mechanism to provide feedback (including those in nearby historic Pickering Village, or those with interest in protecting significant green spaces).

Who made the decision?

  • There are many decision points for this project, including the developer (Pickering Developments Inc.), the signatory parties to the Development Agreement (City of Pickering, Region of Durham, and developer), the TRCA, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

What has the Town done to oppose the MZO?

What are other people saying?

  • Environmental Defence co-signed a letter with Ontario Nature, Wilderness Committee, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, and Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition to Ministers Clark and Yakabuski opposing the reclassification of the wetlands and the MZO
  • The Green Party of Ontario leader MPP Mike Schreiner asked a question about this issue in the Legislature on October 29. The GPO also released a statement

What should concerned residents do?

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Let us know how you feel about paving over wetlands.