At the March 22, 2021 Council Meeting, Pickering City Council unanimously passed a resolution requesting that Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, revoke the Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) 607/20 from the lands located west of Squires Beach Road.

This means that development on the Durham Live lands will not be built on Provincially Significant Wetlands. The MZO remains in place east of Squires Beach Road for the balance of the Durham Live site, which will ensure that major components of the project such as the film studios, waterpark, boutique hotel, residential apartments (including 150 affordable housing units), restaurants, shops, and other attractions will proceed. 

Watch the March 22, 2021 Meeting Video.
Read the official news release

History of the MZO

A province MZO issued on October 30, 2020 by The Minister of Municipal Affairs was welcomed by the City of Pickering as it would fast track significant investment and attracts more jobs to the region.

The City of Pickering is pleased to support a project that will bring 10,000+ full-time, well-paying jobs to the region. And while we focus on local jobs and the economy, that focus does not come at the expense of the environment. 

Watch our short video for an explanation of where the provincially significant wetlands are located. Please note development is no longer slated for this site. 
Durham Live MZO Wetlands Video

November 4, 2020 - Official Statement - Durham Live Project Gets the Green Light

What is an MZO and why was it administered?

Durham Region’s economy, and in particular the City of Pickering, have been hard hit in recent years. Not only are we battling the ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, but also the wind down of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, and the decline of traditional manufacturing in the Region. 

An additional 2,500 local jobs have been put on hold at Durham Live, because of the pandemic. It is in response to these economic and social challenges that the City of Pickering, with the support of the Region of Durham, requested a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) to accelerate the Durham Live project.

The Planning Act authorizes the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to make zoning orders for regulating the use of land and the location, use, height, size and spacing of buildings and structures. This zoning order was requested by the City of Pickering with the support of the Regional Municipality of Durham.

Our intentions to request the MZO were publicly stated at a City Council meeting on May 13, 2020. Since then, we have been working to negotiate a framework between all relevant parties on how to best proceed.

Background information on the Wetlands

Photo Gallery: DL MZO 1 will appear here on the public site.
Where was the development slated to go?

The lands that were earmarked for this investment were on the western edge of the Durham Live site and functionally disconnected from the Lower Duffins Creek valley. Duffins Creek does not run through these lands and there are no established hiking trails. View the location map

Watch our short video for an explanation of where the provincially significant wetlands are located. Please note development is no longer slated for this site. 

Where was the development not going?

Some have incorrectly suggested that the City of Pickering had requested permission to pave over the nature trails and flowing creeks found in the Lower Duffins Creek valley and the wetlands near the coast that can be found between Church Street and Westney Road, stretching down to Lake Ontario.

The City of Pickering had no intention of disturbing these lands, which are located primarily in the Town of Ajax.

The project site is located directly north of the Pickering Flea Markets, west of Squires Beach Road, and immediately south of Highway 401

Lower Duffins Creek bridge Lower Duffins Creek

Caption: The Trans-Canada Trail bridge crossing at Bayly Street and Duffins Creek is over 1 km from the Durham Live site, and located within the Town of Ajax. 

Report on the Wetlands in Question

The image below marks where the development area was (1 & 2). Please note development is no longer slated for this site. 

Durham Live site and surrounding area

Image areas: 

  1. Site of warehouse and proposed film studio
  2. Site of casino and hotel at Durham Live
  3. Lower Duffins Creek Valley
  4. Coastal Wetlands (to the south)

A recent report that studied the lands north of Bayly Street and west of Squires Beach road indicates the following:

  1. groundwater-surface water interactions within wetlands appear to be limited;
  2. connectivity to surrounding features is low and urban stressors are relatively high;
  3. vegetation communities within the subject property primarily consist of marshes dominated by cattails and the non-native invasive Common Reed (phragmites);
  4. the number of vascular flora comparatively low considering the total area of the subject property;
  5. no breeding amphibians were recorded;                               
  6. no breeding threatened or endangered species were recorded in this area.
Photo Gallery: DL MZO 2 will appear here on the public site.

The ecological study on these lands indicate that these wetlands generally provide limited ecological functions for flora, fish, and wildlife. This area is bordered by Highway 401 and Bayly Street, and is surrounded by industrial and commercial uses, that combined with the presence of invasive plant life, have contributed to an ongoing decline in the wetland.

In short, the land in question is not currently in use for parks and recreation purposes, does not contain endangered life, and is not a vital ecological region. What is notable is the size of the wetlands.

Memorandum of Agreement 

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the developer signed a Memorandum of Agreement that set a framework for the enhancement of ecological benefits to the natural system that would achieve a 1:1 ratio of wetland compensation. The developer, the City, and TRCA were in the process of pulling that plan together, and development of the site would not have moved forward without satisfying a number of key requirements. 

This is TRCA’s process on how the planning and permits work.

Boosting jobs and the economy in Pickering and Durham Region

Why is Durham Live so significant to vital job creation in the region?
Durham Live development will be one of the most significant economic drivers and job creators for Durham Region. Not only are we now battling the ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, but also the wind down of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, and the decline of traditional manufacturing in our region. 

Intersection improvements, traffic studies, and affordable housing components are also some of the other benefits of this development. For example, as a result of this, the intersection improvements are on track to be completed by Fall 2021, and the Notion Road Overpass will be completed as part of this project. 

How many jobs will this project create?
Durham Live is expected to bring 10,000+ jobs in total once completed. To-date, the project has created over 2,500 jobs, however most of these have been put on hold due to the pandemic. Additionally, there will be 1,500 new jobs at the Tribro Film Studios. The MZO lays the foundation for the creation of thousands of more jobs for the benefit of Pickering and Durham residents.

While we are boosting local jobs and the economy, that focus does not come at the expense of the environment. This investment is also accompanied by a significant plan to help and mitigate environmental concerns.

The City of Pickering is committed to transparency and visibility of all development projects to its citizens. One of the most important measures of our success is the satisfaction of our residents.

The City's award-winning sustainability program has grown and evolved, but has remained grounded in 5 broad sustainability objectives: Healthy Environment, Healthy Economy, Healthy Society, Responsible Development, and Responsible Consumption. The Sustainable Pickering program is reflected in the City's corporate priorities, through Sustainable Placemaking.

The Sustainable Pickering Year-in-Review was developed to showcase key sustainability highlights and accomplishments throughout the year. Our 2019 annual report reveals our efforts to enhance the natural environment, helping pollinators, reducing waste and becoming more energy efficient while remaining deeply engaged with our community.

In 2020, the City of Pickering will continue its longstanding commitment to create a more sustainable environment.  To learn how you can get involved, visit


The City of Pickering will respond to any concerns of its residents, and protect the safety and sustainability of the region. To ensure our service delivery is the best and that we consistently meet the needs of our diverse community we encourage all suggestions and feedback.