Food Not Fumes

Photo by Kirsten Jerry

A sign made by protesters against the construction of the airport.

The Pickering Airport has been argued about for over 40 years. Once again tensions are high.  Durham Regional chairman, Roger Anderson, is pushing to have the airport built.

The land designated for the airport should be left as farmland. The loss of farmland will affect the price of food, since more will need to be imported.

According to Statistics Canada, in 1972, the land was expropriated by the government to build an airport but only if needed. One day the farmers owned the land, the next day the government did.

Many residents responded by creating the organization People or Planes (P.O.P.), lead by Dr. Charles Godfrey, in the same year. The movement ended in 1975 when the airport plans were put on hold by the federal government.

On July 11, 2011, a study predicted an airport would be needed in the area some time from 2027-37.

Land Over Landings, chaired by Mary Delaney, is fighting against the airport because would pave over some of Canada’s fertile farmland.

Local farming would help our food prices. If Canada were to sell more of its own foods, instead of importing goods grown in-house, some food prices would be lower. If the lands were used for farming purposes, locals could enjoy local foods, and there would be less need for them to buy imported foods.

In 2016, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario spent just over $26.5 million on imported foods. If more food was grown locally, this cost could go down because less food would need to be imported.

If an airport were to be built on the designated land, the environment would suffer. Burning airplane fuel creates carbon dioxide, and releases other harmful chemicals and particles.

Airplane fuel can have serious effects on the environment, and our health, long-term. It can also act as a greenhouse gas.

If farmed sustainably, using the Pickering lands for agriculture would help the environment. According to a Statistics Canada report, agriculture from 1986-2011 has helped to improve our environment, with the exception of water quality.

Some airport supporters argue an airport would create jobs. It is true jobs would be created, but others would be demolished, along with homes, and farmable land.

There are people living on the airport lands. If an airport were built, they would be required to move out of their homes. Some people have lived in these houses for years.

Not all the rented acres of farmland come with a house. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, food and rural affairs about 3.7 million acres of Ontario’s farmland was rented in 2011.

Farmers who are renting the land designated for the Pickering airport would have to seek out different fertile lands on which they could plant their crops. Fertile land is becoming increasingly harder to find, because of land development and rising prices on farmland.

 According to the 2015 farmland values report, the price of Ontario farmland rose by 6.6 per cent in that year. The report states prices have been continually rising since 1988.

Durham Region needs farms, not an airport. The farms would help the local economy, help the environment and provide housing for the farmers and renters.

An airport would force the current residents from their homes, add to air pollution, and might raise food prices, due to less Canadian food being sold in our stores. The long-debated issue needs to come to a close. The government needs to decide what is more important: the health and well-being of Canada’s people, or an airport.

Farmland is meant to be farmed, not paved.