Amazon says it’s not building new warehouse on Pickering wetlands citing environmental concerns

By Lucas Casaletto

Amazon has ditched plans to build a huge retail warehouse in Pickering, Ont.

The online retail giant says the company is no longer considering property near Duffins Creek.

It would have been set up just off Highway 401, east of Brock Road. Duffins Creek is currently designated as provincially significant.

“We were always considering multiple sites for our expansion and we take environmental issues very seriously,” said Amazon spokesperson Dave Bauer in an email to 680 NEWS.

Bauer says Amazon never signed a lease for the Pickering property and that the retail giant “did not request a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) for the site.”

“We’re in exploratory conversations with multiple other locations for our new fulfillment centre.”

Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan says he’s disappointed with Amazon’s decision to pull out.

Amazon’s announcement that it is no longer considering the Pickering site for its fulfillment centre, means that we lost this once in a lifetime opportunity to bring Canada’s largest warehouse, 2,000 jobs, tens of millions of dollars in development charges, and millions of dollars in annual tax revenues to our city,” said Ryan in a statement to 680 NEWS.

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“With this transformational development no longer slated for this site, the appropriate next step is to pause any immediate disruption to the wetlands. The difficult decision to pursue development on these lands was made with the promise of significant jobs and investment, and that the developer and TRCA would negotiate a 1:1 wetland compensation agreement.”

On Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford defended his government’s use of a controversial land planning tool amid mounting concerns it was being used to green-light developments without proper environmental consultations.

Despite its provincially protected status, the Ford government granted an MZO in October to allow construction on the Pickering wetland.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath says the decision by Amazon is the right one but the fight isn’t over.

“You don’t bulldoze a wetland to build a warehouse,” said Horwath. “… We need the Doug Ford MZO scrapped – or this vital wetland remains at risk of being paved over for whatever the highest bidder wants to build there.”

Liberal leader Steven Del Duca says everyone except the Ford government gets that destroying our natural environment is bad economic policy.

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said, “even Amazon recognizes it’s wrong to build a warehouse on provincially significant wetlands.”

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark also issued a statement, saying he plans to write to the city of Pickering and region of Durham to ask if they would like the order to be amended to exclude the portion of the lands that would allow for the construction of a distribution centre.

Amazon recently announced a $10 billion commitment to address the globe’s climate crisis; one of the world’s most ambitious philanthropic projects.

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