Some long-awaited news was delivered by the Ontario government on January 7 when the sale of the Seaton lands in central Pickering was announced. The expansive swath of land encompassing nearly 3,000 hectares along the Highway 407 corridor will be redeveloped as an ambitious new mixed-use sustainable community housing 70,000 new residents and supporting 35,000 new jobs. The proceeds from the sales of the land will be invested in Ontario's Trillium Trust, which is used to fund infrastructure and transit projects across the province.
The Seaton and adjacent Pickering Airport lands were expropriated by governments in the 1970s for the construction of an east side Toronto airport and adjacent community of roughly 150,000 to 200,000 people. Largely due to public opposition, the airport and community were not built as initially envisioned, and the lands have remained vacant ever since. With no start-date yet announced for a downscaled airport north of the Seaton site, the Ontario government has decided to market the community lands to developers. The sale will be conducted by CBRE Limited.
The sale brings to fruition a more than decades-long initiative to kickstart a new community in central Pickering, which began with a land swap in 2003 between the provincial government and private developers involving a portion of the Seaton area. The sale includes approximately 800 acres of land for employment uses, and 269 acres for residential and mixed use development. More than half of the Seaton lands are designated as natural heritage, and the new plan calls for plenty of open green space mixed throughout, with an emphasis on walking and cycling as part of a "sustainable" community. A 2014 editorial on UrbanToronto questions how sustainable the plan for Seaton is: the area is serviced by Highway 407, with no current form of rapid transit.
The Ontario Trillium Trust is a fund to finance key public infrastructure projects, which is part of the government's plan to invest $134-billion over 10 years in roads, bridges, and public transit. In addition to the sale of the Seaton lands, the fund will also include one time sales from the LCBO Lands in Downtown Toronto, and the government's remaining interest in General Motors.
The creation of an entire new community with employment lands is a major step for the Province, the City of Pickering, and Durham Region, and we will be sure to keep you updated as more details about these massive plans become available.