Air park now subject to input from the city and other stakeholders on its development plans. About time.

airpark 100x100By Pepper Parr

December 13, 2014



Vince Rossi had no idea that it was going to come to this.

For years he had been telling the Regional government and the city of Burlington that he was a federally regulated air park and that they had no jurisdiction on what he was doing – so take a hike.

No one at city hall or the region for that matter took the time to look into the matter. There wasn’t much going on at the air park – but then Rossi started trucking in tonnes of land fill.

Air Park - trucks lined up

Trucks taking untested landfill onto the Air Park site.

The trucks were creating all kinds of problems for the people along Appleby Line and they complained to city hall and then they began to ask questions. Where did that landfill come from? What was known about the quality of the landfill. Who signed off on all this?

The city did some digging, realized they were in way over their heads from a legal perspective ad went looking for outside help. They hired lawyer Ian Blue – who took on the case. The city sued the Air Park; the Air Park sued the city – the two cases were made into one. Justice John Murray found for Burlington and the Appeal Court backed him up.

Before the ink was dry on that decision the Air Park filed an appeal. There wasn’t much ink to on that document. The hearing was very short and the decision very clear. The Air Park did indeed have to adhere to municipal bylaws for that part of their operation that was not strictly aeronautic – runways and the like.

The Air Park eventually filed a site plan application that is now being reviewed by the city.

Then the federal government made a move and added a section to their second omnibus budget implementation bill that changed significant parts of the Aeronautics Act to allow municipalities to have much more impact and influence – let’s call it what it is – CLOUT on what gets done at the Air Park.

The City of Burlington was drawn into legal proceedings as a result of issues arising from increased truck traffic volumes onto the Airpark site; environmental concerns respecting the quality of fill being trucked onto the site, possible impacts on groundwater quality, and drainage impacts on surrounding lands; and the negative impact on the surrounding resident’s quality of life.

Back in June, 2014, the Mayor was directed to work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to lobby the federal Minister of Transportation and other relevant Ministries to develop a process to allow municipalities to have input on airpark land filling operations and expansion plans.

The proposed amendments would provide the Minister with the legal authority to prohibit the development of an aerodrome, expansion or change to the nature of the aerodrome’s operations. The Minister’s authority to prohibit development would be used in circumstances where there is either a risk to aviation safety or if it is not in the public interest, in contrast to the current authority that requires both conditions to be met.

The proposed amendments would also permit the development of regulations requiring aerodrome proponents to consult local land use authorities, affected stakeholders.

This would introduce an obligation for proponents to engage stakeholders and provide an opportunity for those possibly affected by development to voice concerns and work with proponents to mitigate identified concerns.


Vince Rossi – president of the Air Park.

These proposals would bring to an end the consistent thumbing of the Rossi nose to city council. Rossi who has difficulty allowing for the views of others to enter into his plans will, if the legislation is passed have to meet with people, listen to people and make changes.

Vince Rossi’s life just got a little more difficult – and the people of rural Burlington can now have a seat at the table and put their views forward.

The amendments as proposed by the Government to the Aeronautics Act will give the Minister of Transport greater discretion to intervene and make orders prohibiting the development or expansion of aerodromes or any change to their operation, where such development or expansion or change in operations is likely to affect either aviation safety or is not in the public interest.

Current Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt appeared to be very close to Vince Rossi and appeared reluctant to take up the complaints of the Region and Burlington. Raitt is the federal member for Halton.

Burlington heard precious little from its MP Mike Wallace. As a back bencher he does what the Minister tells him to do –and Wallace isn’t one to get too far away from the party line.

The proposed changes give the Governor in Council the authority to make regulations requiring aerodrome proponents to consult land use authorities and affected stakeholders.

This is the hill that has been built on the north side of the property.  There was a time when Sheldon could see Rattle Snake Point from her kitchen window - today - she looks at a pile of landfill - that has never been tested.

This is the kind of development that will not be possible once the Aeronautics Act amendments are given Royal Assent.  There was a time when Barbara Sheldon could see Rattle Snake Point from her kitchen window – today – she looks at a pile of landfill – that has never been tested,she can barely see the Escarpment..

The people of rural Burlington aren’t home free yet – but the lay of the land has changed significantly. The changes were in a government bill – they are not likely to be challenged all that much. It will be interesting to see if Burlington’s MP chooses to make a presentation at the committee hearing the bill will have to go to.

It is going to be even more interesting to see how the city of Burlington and the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition react to this change.

Vince Rossi could not have seen this coming. Here is what he is now faced with:

Amendment to the Aeronautics Act
Section 4.9 of the Act is amended by adding the following after paragraph (k):
(k.1) the prohibition of the development or expansion of aerodromes or any change to the operation of aerodromes;
(k.2) the consultations that must be carried out by the proponent of an aerodrome before its development or by the operator of an aerodrome before its expansion or any change to its operation;


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1 comment to Air park now subject to input from the city and other stakeholders on its development plans. About time.

  • Kurt Koster

    Good news for Canada and more particular for the rural part of Burlington. Disappointing that our MPs Lisa Raitt (Halton) and Mike Wallace (Burlington) have been silent on this issue. Lisa Raitt has refused to meet with her constituents living near the Airpark. So much for democracy.