In 1972, 18,600 of acres in Pickering were expropriated by the Federal and Provincial governments to build a new international airport and a planned city. People or Planes (POP) was a group formed in 1972 to fight the building of an airport here; some of our current members had their own homes expropriated and played key roles in POP. Fierce opposition by this grassroots movement succeeded in stopping the airport project in 1975.
Due to the concerted efforts of many organizations and people including many founding members of GDA, over half of the 18,600 acres expropriated in 1972 for an airport and development have now been transferred to become Rouge National Urban Park.
The Federal Government maintains ownership of the remaining 9000 acres. This is an important and sizeable land holding that contains some of the best farmland in southern Ontario, natural spaces which could farmed or returned to its natural state to support biodiversity all on the doorstep of one of the most densely populated cities in North America. Our vision is that these lands are protected from urban sprawl, agriculture is supported and an agritourism industry is nurtured.
In 2016 we partnered with the local community advocacy group Land Over Landings to support a study of the economics of agriculture and rural growth on the Federal lands. The study was released in 2018 and provided a clear picture of the benefits to agriculture and to tourism if longer land leases were offered to farmers; A Future for the Lands: Economic Impact of Remaining Pickering Federal Lands if Returned to Permanent Agriculture | Land Over Landings