Air Park: city is on top of what is turning out to be a horse that is bucking like crazy.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 18, 2013.  The city’s team managing the problems with the Burlington Executive Air Park were to meet today with the lawyers retained by the Air Park.  That meeting was cancelled by the Air Park.

Not the best of news for the city but understandable given that the city does not have the Ministry of Environment as on side as they had hoped.

What was once a small local airport with a grss runway is now in the process of becoming something close to a Regional airport with plans for a helicopter operatation as well as hanger space for very large aircraft that can’t find or afford space at Pearson in Toronto. The development of this much larger operation sort of crept up on everyone – this is what happens when the bureaucrats take their eye off the ball and then the ward co7uncillor is aligned with the air park operator instead of the resident.

The city wrote the MOE last week saying:  

The Airpark is not in compliance with the regulations made pursuant to the Environmental Protection Act, specifically O.Reg. 153/04 and O.Reg. 347. I have attached the report for your immediate review. From the information we have, you will note they are not in compliance with your regulations. We insist that you take immediate steps to order them into compliance including issuing an immediate ‘stop work order’ on existing filling activities. Further, out of an abundance of caution, for the protection of the health of the residents, we would expect the MOE to exercise its authority to order testing on the groundwater and wells in the vicinity of the park, and any other testing you deem appropriate to provide answers to other potential off-site impacts.

Can you confirm if you have a record of ‘Site Conditions’ in your registry for this location?

We will be presenting the results to our Council Monday evening here at City Hall at 6:30pm. Can I ask that your staff be in attendance to answer questions on your actions as this will also help with the communications to the residents who will want to hear how you intend to force the owner into compliance and manage the potential safety issues arising from what amounts to operating an unlicensed landfill site.

The MOE people were not able to attend the city council meeting; they had had less than a full working day to review the documents and get themselves up to speed.

The Ministry of environment has to decide if this kind of landfill dumping is permitted under the provinces rules. They also have to decide if the consultants the city hired to advise on what was done by the Air Park have got the story right. The Air Park, understandably, does not agree with the city’s consultant.

The MOE decided they would talk to the Air Park people before taking a position.  See that as bureaucratic butt covering; what will matter is the position the MOE takes after meeting with the Air Park people.

The MOE has advised the city that they will meet with Burlington General Manager Scott Stewart and brief him on their conclusions sometime next week.

The decision to cancel the meeting is a bit of a bump for the city and a major concern for the residents of north Burlington.  Should everyone be alarmed?  Not alarmed but concerned.

The Air Park has a lot riding on the outcome of this matter; if they lose, they lose everything, so expect them to use every legal tool available to them.  They have advised the city that they intend to take legal action of their own.  See that as legal posturing.

What has to be kept in mind is that the problems with these small airport operations are not limited to Burlington – these situations exist across the country which means every municipality with a small airport wants to be at the table.  Mayor Goldring is working closely with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities who do the lobbying with the federal government.  Burlington’s outside legal counsel has a very strong understanding and a firm grip on how things work at the federal level.

Newly minted federal Minister of Transportation Lisa Raitt, who is the MP for north Burlington thinks the air park is “not a bad piece of infrastructure” but she wants it to operate within a “social license”.

The real concern is a comment made by Halton’s MP, Lisa Raitt, bow the Minister of Transportation who is reported to have said that she realizes small air parks are an issue across the country and that there is some confusion over the rules that apply.  Of concern is the comment that the airpark is “not a bad piece of infrastructure but it has to be operated within a social license.”

Is the Minster’s view of a social license similar to that of the residents in north Burlington?

Raitt plans to open lines of communication with the residents, the city and the Air Park people. “it is important” said the Minister “to bring everyone together and to work with each other.”

It is going to be a long hot summer.  The city is on top of what is turning out to be a horse that is bucking like crazy.  Vince Rossi will not be taken out easily.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 comments to Air Park: city is on top of what is turning out to be a horse that is bucking like crazy.

  • Rob Narejko

    Good to see Ms. Raitt weighing in under her new portfolio. I commented earlier on her being MIA for her constituents, so credit where credit is due.

    Lets hope this is a priority item and is addressed quickly.

  • James Smith

    Given Ms Raitt’s former job was forcing the island airport down the throats of Torontonians and spending public money on infrastructure for a private company at the Island airport, and her invisibility on the issue of the BAP one can hardly be reassured by anything said by this minister of the crown.