pickering wetlands

Amazon decides not to build controversial warehouse on protected Pickering wetlands

In a huge win for the environment, it appears that a massive warehouse that Amazon had planned to construct on protected wetlands near Toronto is not going to happen after all.

The development was one of many that Ontario Premier Doug Ford is quickly approving over the heads of municipalities and without usual due process through the use of Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs).

The highly controversial MZOs are used to fast-track new projects without the usual steps involved in such endeavours, like public consultation or even communicating with the municipality involved at all.

In this case, Ford had recently ordered the Toronto Region Conservation Authority to grant a building permit for the site despite the fact that the lands in question, near Highway 401 and Brock Road in Pickering, are in the protected Greenbelt.

The deadline for issuing that permit was Friday, but Amazon pulled out of the arrangement the same day.

According to the CBC, the distribution facility could have ended up being up to a staggering four million square feet, the largest in Canada.

Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan responded to the news with disappointment, saying in a statement that the construction was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" that would have provided 2,000 new jobs, tens of millions of dollars in development charges and millions in annual tax revenues into the city.

He also said that there would have been a wetland compensation agreement with the developer to offset the residual loss of the natural ecological functions of the land around Duffins Creek.

He also stated that work on the location and "any immediate disruption to the wetlands" will now be halted.

Residents have been pushing back hard and even going to court against Ford's arguably heavy-handed use of MZOs lately, including for the demolition of Toronto's historic Foundry buildings last month.

Meanwhile, in unrelated Amazon news, the nearby Brampton warehouse was forced to close down today due to a COVID-19 outbreak among employees — not at all a rare occurence in such essential work settings.

Lead photo by

Tony Webster

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