Air Park people and the city jockey back and forth in site plan application; provincial agency decides a public meeting isn't necessary.

airpark 100x100By Pepper Parr

December 13, 2014



It is a grind. Each step the city takes with the people who run the Air Park has a high level of frustration and often the sense that nothing is getting done.

At the last meeting of the Development and Infrastructure Standing committee, staff provided an update. Gruesome is the best way to describe the progress.

Air Park dump truck

The dumping of landfill on the Air Park site without site plan approval has been on the city’s agenda for more than five years. Two court cases – both won by the city – and there still isn’t an approved site plan.

What the city does have in its back pocket is a decision from Superior Court of Ontario saying they have the right to require the Air Park to adhere to the city’s site plan bylaw and a decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal confirming that right.

Along with those two court decisions the city has about $60,000 in costs recovered. That $60,000 by the way is going to look like chump change when the public learns about just how much the city has spent fighting these court cases. Ian Blue, QC, the lawyer who represented the city is good, but he is also expensive.

The staff report summarizes issues that have been addressed or are in the process of being addressed since the last Airpark Update on September 22, 2014.  Molasses moves faster in the winter.

City staff continue to have discussions with the Airpark’s consultants regarding the submission of a Site Alteration Permit application. They met with representatives from S. Llewellyn & Associates, consultants for the Air Park and Pinchin Environmental Ltd., the city’s consultants to review the requirements of a Risk Assessment.

Vince Rossi at a community meting held in a barn a couple of hundred yards from the end of one of the airport runways

Vince Rossi at a community meting held in a barn a couple of hundred yards from the end of one of the airport runways

Middle of October 17, the city wrote Vince Rossi a letter expressing concern regarding the failure to submit an application for a Site Alteration Permit. The city advised Rossi that if a submission was not received by November 14, 2014, the city would proceed with enforcement its new site plan bylaw that was approved at City Council on September 22, 2014 and is now in effect.
Guess what? The application for a permit arrived the day of the deadline along with the cheque to cover the filing fee – thought to be in the $10,000 range.

Now the city and the consultants get to wrangle over how much of the application is going to be approved. We do know now that the city is not going to call for the hauling away of all the landfill. It is believed that some of the landfill on the Appleby Line side of the Air Park will have to be taken away so that the Sheldon property gets back some of the site lines it once had. It is likely to have enough of the landfill removed to allow the owner to see Rattle Snake point – something the owner hasn’t actually been able to see for more than five years.

air Park - Cousins propert hill

More than thirty feet of landfill rises from the edge of the Couzens property on Appleby Line. They want every cubic foot of it removed.

The Couzen’s property owners, just up the road from the Sheldon property, are hanging tough – they are apparently not interested in half measures and they don’t want the city to pussy foot around. If the landfill was put there without a permit – then take it out.

That is not going to happen. Some of the landfill will get taken out but that site will never be what it was before the trucks started rolling in.

What isn’t at all clear is just what will the Air Park be in the future? It isn’t economically sustainable as a piddly little aerodrome.

The city now has the authority to enforce its bylaw. How effective and firm they will choose to be is unknown – the wider community is going to have to rely on community organizations to keep the feet of senior people at city hall as close to the flames as they can – without crippling them. The Rural Burlington green Coalition has its work cut out for them. Their challenge is to widen their circle of adherents and get people south of the QEW involved. Most people in Burlington don’t understand what the issue really is.

Getting information from different provincial government agencies has been like pulling teeth from a hen. In October 2014 the City received correspondence from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) in response to the City’s appeal to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that the City made to the Ministry of the Environment (now the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)) in 2013


The city wants to know more about the measuring of the groundwater on the Air Park site. The Air Park doesn’t appear to want to share that information.

The city wanted a copy of a groundwater monitoring program developed for the Burlington Executive Airport lands. Someone with an interest in what happens with the Air Park took the position that the information was “private” and could not be released to the public. It is believed that the “someone” was the Air Park.

The Information Privacy Commissioner indicated that the appeal is in the inquiry stage, and that representations had been received (as requested) from the MOECC and two affected parties.

The IPC correspondence provided the non-confidential portions of the MOECC submissions as well as a summary of the submissions made by the two affected parties. It was also outlined in the letter that the City had a deadline of November 13, 2014 in order to make submissions the City deemed relevant.

City staff got there submissions in by the deadline. Once the submission process is complete, the IPC will issue a decision with respect to the appeal, which may include an order to resolve the outstanding issues.

And if you understood much of the above the city might want to hire you. There are people in the Planning department who now know more about Privacy Information than they ever wanted to know. Several have hair that is much greyer than it used to and several have less hair.

The issue is getting a copy of the groundwater monitoring program developed for the Burlington Executive Airport. The city has a vital interest in how the groundwater that works its way through tonnes of landfill that they really don’t know where it came from. They want to ensure that the groundwater is effectively measured and analyzed. There is a lot of jerking around going on with this one; one wonders just whose side the provincial government is on with this one.

To muddy the waters even more the MOECC has told the city in an Oct 7, 2014 email, that a public meeting on this issue was not necessary.

One hopes that the MPP Eleanor McMahon will be all over this one. McMahon is a strong environmentalist and has a firm hand inside the velvet gloves she wears.

Widening of one of the air park runways is now complete.  Is more traffic expected?  Is there a viable business plan in place?The Air Park continued with the widening of the main north-south runway during the summer. King Paving, which does a lot of work for the city, sent a letter explaining in some detail that there was nothing done that wasn’t permitted in terms of hauling soil onto the site. King Paving did bring in hundreds of truckloads of landfill onto the site in the early stages. There was, at that time, some discussion about requiring King Paving to remove everything they brought in.

Something as small as a wheel barrow draws the attention of those who live next to the air park. When they saw windrows of soil along the west side of the runway alarms were raised . These piles were excavated soil from the runway widening base excavation. They were used to complete the grading of the lands adjacent to the runway and taxiway.

The material hauled into the site was recycled asphalt grindings and granular material for construction of the runway widening base. There was no “soil/fill” material hauled into the site and no “soil/fill” material was hauled off of the site.

Currently, the permanent installations of the runway lighting is being completed.  The construction of the runway widening and its appurtenances (that is the city’s word – not ours) is not within the City’s jurisdiction and did not require any City-issued permits or approvals.

The Region seems to have left the room Air Park discussions take place in; there has been no correspondence at all from the Region on this file.

Conservation Halton staff have had discussions with the Air Park’s engineering consultant regarding permit submission requirements. City staff continue to communicate and coordinate with CH staff.

Barbara Sheldon look at 32 feet of landfill less than 50 feet from her kitchen window.  All dumped without any permits because an airport is federally regulated.  The city is not done with this issue.

Barbara Sheldon looks at 32 feet of landfill less than 50 feet from her kitchen window. How much of that landfill is the city going to require be moved before issuing a site plan permit?

The installation of drainage and siltation control works will be required on the Airpark site. The Site Alteration Permit application is required to include these details. The delay in getting the site plan application into the planning department resulted in the city advising the Air Park’s consultant that these works are required immediately and must be installed to the satisfaction of the city.

The city is now coordinating its response to the problems with the Air Park owners with the other agencies and levels of government involved.

It took too long for the city to actually do something about the land fill that was being dumped without a permit – but to their credit – once they were made fully aware of the significance of the problem they moved quickly and effectively.

During the early stages of figuring out what was going on at the Air Park  the city looked through the documentation they had – not much – but one report on file had been signed off on by a staff member who was involved in the first round of the construction of the pier.

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1 comment to Air Park people and the city jockey back and forth in site plan application; provincial agency decides a public meeting isn’t necessary.

  • Centerline

    The writing is on the wall, This is a replacement for Buttonville’s capacity. Next step? JETS!. Executive JETS!