City council gets detail on damage Air Park doing to the community; Lancaster gets an earful.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  June 11, 2013.  Four people delegated to city council last night to tell their Council what has gone wrong in their part of the city and asking for help.

Vanessa Warren, operator of an equestrian operation she and her husband are moving from Oakville to Burlington to their farm on Bell School Line which they now find may become the end of a 4700 runway that could be handling small jet aircraft.

Warren explained that the length and detail of the memo before Council that night outlines the many facets of an incredibly complex issue; “but it is made all the more complex by what seems to be constant deception on the part of airpark owners and management.  How can the City negotiate in good faith with a party that seems to persistently mislead and misrepresent itself?”

The property with the black lines what the Burlington Executive Air Park wants to purchase and use to extend their runway to 4700 square feet.  The property with the red lines is owned by Vanessa Warren and her husband.  They bought the farm to locate their riding operation on the farm  The runway will end yards from the riding ring she plans to build.  Warren will have to seek a permit to build that riding ring – the air park doesn’t have to seek any permits – they are federally regulated.

Ms Warren understood the frenetic pace of activity for many Councillors and City Staff in trying to grapple with this learning curve. She painted a picture of a businessman who put out an “an incredibly misleading economic development story; including outrageous employment figures and non-existent Chinese Pilot Training programs; used a 2008 road permit issued from the Region with an anticipated one year of truck use that is still being used in 2013.”

Vanessa Warren delegated to city council on the landfill work being done at the Air Park and the impact it will have on her property – and the larger community as well.

Ms Warren maintained that Vince Rossi, owner of the Air Park “told the city in 2008 that the dumping would be complete in 2009.”  She described numerous examples “in the report before you of unfulfilled promises; a letter to Councillor Lancaster that hasn’t materialized a Phase 2 ESA that became a draft Phase 1 ESA, and soil reports promised and not delivered.”

“Sometimes”, Warren said “airpark expansion plans are paraded about at public meetings and other times, as indicated during a June 6th meeting, there seem to be no plans at all. 

Meanwhile, the situation on the ground is actually getting worse; residents must now contend with night-time dumping as the 407 is resurfaced.

“I can understand that good governance requires that you do not become engaged in long and expensive legal battles without a thorough understanding of your position; but how do you legally wrangle with “However, the laws of other jurisdictions may still apply”?

The Air Park owners have taken the position that they are regulated by the federal department of transport, which does nothing other than add any changes to runway configurations to one of their manuals.  No on-site inspections.  Nothing!

“The problem” said Warren, “isn’t just that the residents and all levels of government are mired in process and a jurisdictional quagmire – the problem is that the airpark is RELYING on it.”

Warren had two requests:

“Seek an immediate legal injunction to stop the dumping and further development at the Airpark.   Negotiating in good faith is not possible when there is no good faith.  Further, plans to hire of a consultant must not delay pursuing every possible legal means of stopping the damage.  An injunction does not commit you to a specific legal path; it simply gives the City time to find solutions.”

Warren also wanted the city to ask the federal Minister of Transport to require the Burlington Airport to become a Certified Aerodrome. 

“Currently, The Burlington Airport, as an uncertified aerodrome, is given protection under the aeronautics act but is, for all intents and purposes, completely unregulated by it.  Based on the level of activity at the Airpark, the Minister can deem this in the public interest; meaning the airpark would have to come into compliance with more appropriate safety and management regulations.”

Ms Warren, formed the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition (RBGC) to deal with what has become a threat that could bring to an end all the work she and her husband have put into their riding business during the past twenty years.

There were four people delegating.  Barbara Sheldon, who has suffered the most damage to the value of her property and the degradation of her life style was blunt and direct.


Barbara Sheldon stares up at the small hill or landfill that has been dumped on the property next to hers. The Air Park next door claims they did not need a permit to dump the landfill because they are federally regulated. Sheldon is speechless and cannot believe this can happen. City council doesn’t believe it can happen either – but it is happening – as we speak.

“ I am” she said “ the resident in rural Burlington – who is surrounded on three sides by the Burlington Airpark – and who’s been directly impacted the most since 2008 by Mr. Rossi’s landfill dumping operation.  “It doesn’t take a lawyer or an engineer or the most savvy politician to ‘get’ that Vince Rossi is attempting to DUPE City Council and City Staff right now…just like he’s done to our rural residential community since he bought the Airpark in 2007.”


“Frankly”, she added “there are some really fine individuals on Council and Staff, and it’s driving me crazy to see him insult your intelligence this way.”

 Ms Sheldon then directed a withering gaze at Councillor Lancaster and said: “Mrs. Lancaster, more than 6 weeks ago you agreed to visit the properties.  And yet you have not.  You’ve made your position with the Airpark quite transparent to our community.”

 Sheldon explained that Rossi “backed away from his parking lot scheme — when the City and Conservation Halton wanted to hold him accountable.  He backed away from his 22-story cell phone tower scheme — when the community, the pilots and the media wanted to hold him accountable.  Are you noticing a theme here?” she asked.

 “He has effectively WIPED OUT the peace and the beauty of my land. He has ERADICATED the SIGNIFICANT investment I made in my property and my future.  I ask you: what kind of person does this willfully?  The person you are trying to deal with now, she added.

 Ms Sheldon said she has “a paper trail since 2008 of more than 300 communiques from various municipal, regional, provincial, and federal authorities who have refused to get involved.  Did Mr. Rossi find a loophole?  You bet.  Can you start NOW – to plug the loophole.  YES.”

 Ms Sheldon reminded Council that at a previous meeting the city manager expressed an educated and experienced opinion – which our community is CLINGING to right now:

 To paraphrase him, he said directly to you:  You have options.  You CAN take a position on this.  You don’t have to be right, but you CAN take a position.

 I beg of you folks.  Please.   Take a position.  And make Mr. Rossi accountable for the damages he’s ALREADY inflicted.

 For Dennis Monte, an engineer by profession felt as if he was traveling down a road he thought he had put behind him.  Dennis talked about the human side of the Airpark story.

 “I would like to attempt to put a face on the Burlington Airpark project.  Political and legal games are being played and while they are important, there exist real people with real lives directly impacted negatively by this project.  I have probably had more experience than anyone else, due to external circumstances, at holding the short end of the stick.

Forty years ago I went through a different situation; however the effect on the citizens was the same. That was expropriation for the Pickering Airport.”

 “I witnessed”, said Dennis, “the devastating impact on individuals, families, relationships and on the individual health and that of the community.”

 “The fact that only a few residents are affected by the work being done at the air park should not matte. When one considers the entire project the numbers are not small.  During certain times of the day Appleby Line has been taken from the community, due to the excess number of dump trucks using Appleby Line . It has been taken from walkers, cyclists, motorcycles, and commuters.”

“ I question whether school busses should be using Appleby Line any longer as a route.”

 “Good politicians and bureaucrats sometimes will count concerns and sometimes they will weigh concerns.  This is a time in which to weigh the concerns and ask “What would I do if this were happening to me?”

Monte Dennis to city council: “If I, or any of my neighbours, are not justly treated – I will push back.”

 “I’m not here to place blame, for we are all to blame, yes, even myself, for not being aware of my surroundings as much as I should have been.  This is past being serious – it is critical! I cannot emphasize that enough. Have we, as individuals, lost all of our rights?”

 “I was never told that life was fair, I’ve accepted that and have no problem with it, however, it must be just.If I, or any of my neighbours, are not justly treated – I will push back.”

 “Residents do not want this, didn’t ask for it, were not consulted and should not have to shoulder the weight of this.

No business, individual or corporation has the moral right to inflict this harassment, pain, anxiety, suffering and uncertainty on anyone else.

 In the past some have described the Airpark as the jewel of Burlington.  I would suggest that the jewel has fallen out of its setting and is buried beneath tons of fill.  In an attempt to find the jewel I would further suggest the fill be removed.”

 At the start of the delegations Mayor Goldring advised that audience that in Burlington we do not hiss or boo while Council is in session.  At the close of the evening when Council passed the resolution that set out what they were going to do in the immediate future, those in the Council chamber applauded.

 Apparently in Burlington one is allowed to applaud the local politicians.


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