Air park advises city they will dump asphalt at night – because they can. Then they back off their tough position.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  June 12, 2013.  Tracy Burrows, the city’s by-law enforcement office got a “heads up” phone call from Milt Farrow, who works with Vince Rossi, owner of the Burlington Executive Air Park, who wanted to advise her that trucks would be trucking in asphalt from highway 407 at night and on to the grounds of the air park.

It is not clear if Farrow is an officer of the Air Park corporation or working in some executive capacity or just some guy on the payroll but it is clear that he is a pipeline from the Air Park corporation to the city.

In a follow-up Memorandum to the city, dated June 7, Farrow sets out what they are going to do:

“The Ontario Ministry of Transport is resurfacing part of the 407 in or near Burlington.  Some of the old asphalt material to be removed from the 407 is suitable for use as the sub base for the runways, taxiways and aprons being constructed.  Further, the ability to reuse this material as part of the permanent finished product of the airport construction is also general beneficial as it will not other wise need to be disposed.

The original position of the Air Park people was that they could do what they wanted when they wanted – which meant they could use construction equipment around the clock. While not admitting that the city might have some rights in enforcing their by-laws the Air park is believed to have said they will not use heavy equipment at night.

“As you can appreciate” Farrell goes on to say, “most, but not all of the 407 re-surfacing is done at night.  WE are required to accept the materials as it is removed from the 407.  The timing is not something under our control, but it is obviously under the control of the MTO.  While we anticipate some of the materials will be made available during the daylight hours, we understand that much of it must be done at night when traffic on the 407 is light.

“To minimize the noise at night, we are told by the contractor that the following measures will be observed:

a)      The trucks to be used will not have banging tail gates

b)      Work flow will be arranged so the drivers can deliver and deposit loads while driving forward without the need to stop and back up.  As a result, the beeping back up alarms will not be sounded, and

c)      To the extent possible, the night-time work will ne conducted on those areas of the site furthest from neighbours.  Areas of work closer to the neighbours will be planned for the daylight hours.

d)      We anticipate the work will commence on June 10th but we have no end date as it depends on weather but it will take two to three months on an intermittent basis.

Again, the airport takes the position that our construction activities are not subject to municipal by-laws because of the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government over aeronautics, including the construction of permanent facilities at the Airport.  Further, we are advised by our counsel that there is a specific case wherein it was held that a Toronto noise by-law did not apply to activities at the Downsview airport.

It was going to be close to around the clock truck traffic because of a highway 407 asphalt removal contract – but there seems to be some common sense and decency creeping into the behaviour of the Air Park owners.

Notwithstanding, we want to be a good neighbour.  We understand that in some cases exemptions are given further to the Burlington noise by-law and thus, the City must have some experience in minimizing the noise impact of night-time construction activities, when same are necessary.  As explained above, it is necessary in this case.  We would be pleased to receive and consider implementing any other noise abatement measures you care to offer

All this was BEFORE the city Council meeting where the Mayor said that the Air Park people may be good at hiring lawyers and constructing airports but that they know nothing about “public” relations.  Councillor Craven prefaced his questions to the Air Park lawyer with the question: “why are your clients such lousy neighbours”.

It  is close to standard practice for the city to give professionals delegating to Council the time they need to state their case and engage in plenty of Q&A.  Glenn Grenier, counsel for the Air Park and a resident of Burlington didn’t get much of that courtesy.

Some of the ire of the city appears to have gotten through to the airport people.  While they have consistently maintained they can operate outside city by-laws they are said to have advised the city they will follow the noise by-law and NOT truck in fill after 11 pm nor will they do any construction on the site outside the hours of 7 am to 7 pm.

A usually reliable city hall source said it was good news – but “we have had all kinds of problems with these guys broken before so we will just have to wait and see”.

Maybe just a trickle of civility.

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