Let Pickering Grow – Revoke Airport MZO 102/72

By Ted Nickerson & Mark Brooks

Way back in 1972, after the federal government assembled the lands in Pickering for a future airport, the province established 5 Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs). The goal is to further protect for an airport by restricting uses on lands beyond those Pickering lands.

In the past, as the future airport became better defined, the MZOs have been amended.  Three have been revoked entirely.  In 2015, MZO 104/72 covering the area to the west of the federal lands was amended to permit the planned and approved development of the area in Markham, north of Major Mackenzie Drive and west of Highway 48.

It is time for MZO 102/72 to reflect the latest refined planning now being done for the new airport, surrounding industrial land and communities in Pickering.

Today, Durham Region and the City of Pickering are seeking provincial approval for the Northeast Pickering Secondary Plan (NEPSP). This is the planned development of 1,600 hectares approximately 3 kilometres east of the federal airport lands.

This development will create a new community with homes for 45,000 people and 4300 jobs.  This proposed project is supported by years of studies and analyses and is included in the draft Regional Official Plan now before the province.  The City of Pickering held the statutory public meeting for this development on March 20, 2024.

So, it should be a simple matter to gain approval and move forward. But of course, it’s not.  The voices of opposition are twisting the request by Mayor Ashe’s, City of Pickering, to revoke the MZO with misinformation. They are claiming that asking the province to revoke the MZO means:

  • They are going to build houses in the Greenbelt. Wrong!  The limits of the NEPSP match the local boundaries of the Greenbelt.  No development will take place on the greenbelt.
  • The NEPSP development will prevent a future airport on the federal lands. Again, wrong! Current federal and provincial regulations adequately protect a future airport. As required by federal law, the new development should be planned with the airport in mind.

Mayor Ashe’s request is fully justified and expected.

As a longtime supporter of full economic development of the federal lands including a new major airport, we can honestly say it is time to revoke, or at least significantly amend, MZO 102/72 covering the area east of the Pickering airport lands and allow the Northeast Pickering Secondary Plan to proceed.  They are not mutually exclusive developments.

As airport supporters, here’s why we say that.

The location and arrangement of a future airport on the federal lands is settled.

When a future airport is constructed on the federal lands (for those opposed to one, please feel free to substitute “If” for “When”), it will be a 3-runway airport located east of the CP rail line, west of Brock Road and north of Highway 7.  The work of the previous federal government when dedicating lands for the creation of Rouge National Urban Park, also defined, and retained lands for economic development including an airport.  Transport Canada released a map (1) showing that location and a 3-runway layout for the airport.  That map is posted on the Transport Canada Pickering Lands website.

Federal and Provincial regulations protect a future airport.

In 2015, the federal government did more than issue a map showing 3 runways. They also developed a revised Pickering Airport Site Zoning Regulation (PASZR) based on 3 runways and posted it on the Canada Gazette (2).  This PASZR clearly defines that airport approach surfaces and their relationship to the NEPSP can be readily determined.

About half of the NEPSP lands are outside of the eastern airport approach surfaces and the remaining are between 4 to 10 kilometres away from the touch-down zones of the expected runways.

Importantly, future developers acknowledge the possibility of a future airport by placing noise-sensitive uses such as homes and schools beyond the approach surfaces.  Employment uses are planned for the lands below the approach surfaces.

Northeast Pickering Secondary Plan, with the Provincial MZO 102/72 Boundaries

and PASZR (2015) Runways 28R, 28L & 35 Approach Surfaces.

Furthermore, Transport Canada has a well-established national policy (3) to assist planners and legislators at all levels on how to define compatible land uses in the vicinity of airports.

And finally, the Provincial Policy Statement (4) (PPS) protects for the long-term operation and economic role of an airport, among other uses, and it places limits on noise-sensitive land uses near an airport.

The federal government has not released noise contours associated with this 3-runway arrangement.  Once this happens, the Region and the City will be able to establish airport vicinity land use controls in compliance with PPS.

This will be an important exercise. We speculate that the noise contours will only encumber lands predominantly south of Highway 407 located to the west and in the southwest corner of the development, representing something on the order of 20+/- percent of the NEPSP total area.  Only these NEPSP lands will be limited to non-noise sensitive uses, meaning the other 80+/- percent of these lands need not have land use constraints.

Aircraft Approach Considerations

Residents need to be prepared for some noise created by aircraft approaching the new airport, just as they should expect road noise living just North of Highway 407.  Runways 28 right and 28 left have approach surfaces that extend over the NEPSP.  Runway 28R (Right) is the one that most impacts NEPSP.  The Runways Touchdown zone is expected to be on higher ground 2 Nautical Miles (4 Kilometers) from the west end of the NEPSP. Aircraft will be 900 feet above ground level at the westmost side, climbing to 1850 feet on the east side (10 kilometres to the east).

If you live a couple of kilometres away from an airport (or a freeway) expect some noise.

The good news is that new noise reduction technology is being adopted by airlines and Nav Canada.  Quieter engines and new GPS approaches using constant decent angle profiles are expected to help reduce aircraft noise.

Pickering airport is expected to use Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approaches. This is a new form of GPS navigation that allows an aircraft to follow a precise three-dimensional curved flight path in a constant descent through congested airspace and around noise-sensitive areas. A runway approach surface is now more like a curved line than a wide flat area.

The reality is that existing communities across Canada continue to approve developments under similar approach paths at half the distance. An example is a subdivision being built only two kilometres away from runway 08 at Waterloo Airport. Why should Pickering Airport be different?

The Northeast Pickering Secondary Plan is an important project.  The NEPSP and a future airport are compatible.  Neither prevents the development of the other. Provincial MZO 102/72 can be and needs to be revoked now to permit the Northeast Pickering Secondary Plan development to proceed on a timely basis.

The Northeast Pickering Secondary Plan development does not have to wait for a decision on a future airport.  It just needs to comply with the established regulations noted above.



  1. Transport Canada: 18-001 MAP 39A NEWLY IDENTIFIED LAND USES FOR THE PAL MARCH 28, 2017dgn (canada.ca)

2. Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 149, Number 29: Pickering Airport Site Zoning Regulations:

         Canada Gazette – Pickering Airport Site Zoning Regulations

     3. Aviation – Land Use in the Vicinity of Aerodromes – TP 1247 (canada.ca)

     4. Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 – Under the Planning Act (ontario.ca)

5 thoughts on “Let Pickering Grow – Revoke Airport MZO 102/72

  1. As quoted in this article: https://t.ly/HKJ0n , notice the clown saying the NEPSP development will prevent a future airport on the federal lands, is the same one who has staunchly fought an airport from coming. You’d think he’d want the development to help his anti-airport stance. But no, because he is a liar and hypocrite.
    Brenner is a fossil who exists to oppose anything and everything from being built in Pickering and will not care about looking like a total clown.

  2. Sounds like you attended City of Pickering Statutory Public Meeting March, 3024, Mark. Readers/I could look up Minutes. Re: “It is time for MZO 102/72 to reflect the latest refined planning now being done for the new airport, surrounding industrial land and communities in Pickering.” Is issue still with the City or Regional Councils, or request going to province soon? Kudos to C of Pickering for planning & managing growth and cost of living for several decades without the benefit of an airport and prudently developing lands in a way that is compliant with future airport ops.

    1. Yes, both myself and Ted attended the March 20th public meeting at the Chestnut Rec center. Lots of great info presented by city staff. The region and city planners preparing for the new airport get little recognition but are doing a great job.

  3. Mark and Ted. Perhaps you could at least provide a profile diagram of the approach to a constant scale in the upper and the lower half. Otherwise it’s just amateur gaslight propaganda. Using the southern approach is similar…cherry picking. NEF (noise) contours, …Pickering can ignore them like Oshawa does unless contracted.?? And the 10 nm turn on point to final will be at 3000 ft above tdz elevation and over ~Oshawa airport . Ted should stick to his knitting.
    Any building in proximity to approach/ departure paths should be industrial only due noise issues.
    But math on GTAA “capacity” shows beyond year 2268. That is why you lost at Pickering council, and why Ashe ( and Ted) is so completely “pissed” . He’s is playing foolish games . He only wins IF Pickering airport is a total bust as Minister has suggested…HM aero is not fit for the next S ont capacity study and neither are any of their KPMG friends. Out of their league. Mitre corporation is only real capability.
    And PS this
    Durham white paper study on Pickering is now officially busted. Gtaa has nothing but bluster and BS. They gtaa can no longe exist without gov. handouts otherwise they are going broke.

    1. The post is 100% accurate and in line with the work done by the region and city’s world class urban planners.
      To the comment made by Ivan -“Flooding the field” with misinformation only works on the uninformed and weak of mind. If you can’t contribute positively to the discussion then no one is going to take you seriously. As shocking as it might be to your sense of self-worth, the world class team at the GTAA and hard working able urban planners at the city and region are right.

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