City has a big part of its Air Park team in place – announcement will be made at Council.




By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  June 26, 2013  The city has done its best in meeting with the residents in north Burlington, both individually and with the coalition that was put together by Vanessa Warren and called the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition (RBGC) that is pulls LARA, PERL, and COPE into one tent.  The north Burlington community did the same thing with the Niagara GTA fight – they formed SEHC – Stop Escarpment Highway Coalition that had more than 10,000 people who would sign petitions, take road side signs and write letters.

City Hall for its part is happier working with coalitions – it gives them a pipeline to a large number of people with clearly defined leadership.

The RBGC has worked diligently to press their case against the expansion work being done at the airport at both city and Regional council meetings.  Burlington is certainly with its residencts, and the Region, while certainly not fully behind the residents, is not doing anything to get in their way.  The Conservation Authority seems to be lost in a fog that it created.

What makes the Halton Region work is that it is a livable community. You won’t find this kind of a property in many other places in the province that are as close as we are to Toronto. We are going to have to fight to keep it this way.

The case for no airport was summed up best at a Regional Council meeting with Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said the thing that makes our part of the world what it is – is that this is a livable place – and with an airport this large – we will no longer be livable.

The Buttonville Airport is due to close – the Air Park people saw an opportunity and rather than work within the system they chose to use the fact that they are indeed federally regulated and played that angle to get them to where they are today.  But that gig might be up. The municipalities are up in arms, the Region will go along with them.  Is there a provincial point of view?  Noted is that there hasn’t been a word from Burlington MPP Jane McKenna – expect her to come out with a “if there are jobs then it is good”.

The residents now know they are going to have to do what north Burlington always has to do – get into the trenches and fight just the way they did with the Niagara GTA highway battle and the fight to prevent the Nelson quarry from getting a permit to open up a second quarry site.

This situation came to the city in a bit of a rush even though the dumping of landfill had been going on since 2008 – the problem dget into the trenches and fight just the way they did with the Niagara GTA highway battle and the fight to prevent the Nelson quarry.idn’t manage to reach the ears of city council until around March of this year.  There are residents who claim they have been writing and making phone calls and getting little in the way of response from Councillor Blair Lancaster in whose ward the development is taking place.

The changes are not easily recognized when you drive along Appleby Line.  There are just the two property owners who have been badly hurt by landfill that comes right up against their property lines.

One resident whose property is not currently impacted by the landfill but will be if the proposed extension of the north south runway goes forward, formed a coalition and began making delegations to the city.  That put the fat into the fire and the city began to look into the problem – and found there was a massive jurisdictional mess that no one fully understood.

However, when city hall began to look at the problem it did manage to move rather quickly.  City manager Jeff Fielding put the problem into the hands of city manager Scott Stewart.  One of the first things Stewart did was organize a meeting of the residents and the air park owner Vince Rossi which, in the words of Vanessa Warren, chair  of RBGC, “it was pretty futile”.  Warren doesn’t believe there is going to be any progress with Rossi.

The city  decided to move forward on several levels which included trying to work with the air park owners, then working with the newly formed coalition  (RBGC) and at the same time develop an overall strategy that would include determining what the legal options were.

The Burlington Executive Air Park had sent legal counsel to city hall to explain that the air park was regulated by the federal minister of transportation and that they did not have to comply with whatever rules, regulations and by laws the city or the Region had in place.

Glenn Grenier, legal counsel for the Air Park did his best to explain that the city had no jurisdiction with Air Park development. The city wasn’t buying that story and sent him packing.

That didn’t go over all that well with the city and during the delegation of Glenn Grenier, the Burlington resident, pilot and legal counsel for the Air Park, the city manager advised the Mayor to dismiss the man – send him home – the city didn’t need to hear him explain what his client didn’t have to do.

Lawyer Glenn Grenier hears some choice words from Burlington city manager Jeff Fielding while city lawyer Blake Hurley and Nancy Shea Nicol, on the right, listen in.

After that Council meeting city manager Jeff Fielding had a ‘corridor conversation’ with Grenier during which he made it very clear that the city was not going to be told by anyone how it was to run its affairs and that if the Air Park could not behave as a responsible corporate citizen it could not expect any cooperation in the future.    

The city then set out to get the legal talent it needed to figure out what it could do and what its possible options were.

The city has now secured the services of a person who fully understands the way things aeronautical work at the federal level and happens to be a lawyer as well.  The name of that person and his bona fides will be released at city council’s meeting on Tuesday July 2nd.

Don’t expect to learn all that much about the strategy the city will have developed – that will be explained to council in a closed session.  Our city solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol keeps her cards very close to her chest.

In the weeks since this issue first came to city council there has been a burst of activity that has included presentations to the Region where they went along with closing the south gate to the site but residents say the trucks just go in other entrances.

It would seem that the differences of opinion are moving to some kind of stand-off – with the city doing everything they can to get a stronger grip on what goes on at the Air Park and doing what it can to enforce its by-laws while the Air Park does as much as it can to stick to their position that they are federally regulated.

Mayor Goldring is setting up a meeting with Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion whose fingerprints seem to be all over this project.  “Butt out Hazel” might be an appropriate phrase but Goldring is just too polite say anything like that.

The city can’t get much going with the Conservation Authority people who are apparently sitting on a document that will determine if the Air Park can buy the property to the north which would them give them the room they need to extend the runway and dump more landfill.

Burlington city hall basically shuts down during August – so whatever doesn’t get done in July will sit until September.  There is one situation to watch – what the Conservation Authority does with the application it has sitting on its desk.  City hall types have not had much luck in having a sit down with the Conservation people.  The RBGC people have no problem with Conservation sitting on the paperwork – they just want to be sure a document isn’t issued while everyone is away.

Things are sort of grinding to a halt and what was a dream and a pretty good opportunity might get caught up in the gears of different jurisdictions.  Time for some creative thinking.


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