Idiocy reigns within the provincial bureaucracy; city staff may need help from a support group – airpark situation ludicrous.

December 3, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. The Burlington Executive Airpark is $40,000 lighter than they were a month ago when they agree to pay the legal costs awarded them by Justice Murray.

Burlington was awarded a portion of its legal costs for the application hearing at which Justice John Murray of the Superior Court of Justice, ruled the City of Burlington’s site alteration bylaw applies to the Burlington Executive Airport.

Interesting to note that in remarks made recently city General Manager Scott Stewart he is reported to have said the city has spent something well in excess of $100,000 on this matter to date. Yet all the city is going to be able to recover is $40,000. This clearly is not going to be cheap.

One of the most majestic court rooms in the country; part of the Osgood Hall complex in downtown Toronto where the Burlington Executive Airpark Inc., appeal will be heard.

Two days after Judge Murray’s decision was released the Airpark served notice of an appeal to the decision with the Ontario Court of Appeal. That case will be heard at Osgoode Hall in Toronto and will not make the Court Calendar until sometime in the New Year. The city and the Air Park have to file their documents and then a time has to be found for a hearing. An actual appeal hearing will probably not take place until next fall.

In the meantime the city has taken the view that they have a decision that stands until there is a successful appeal and they want the Airpark to begin adhering to the site alteration bylaw – now.

With landfill dumping brought to a halt, one of the chief concerns for area residents is water quality. No one knows ,with any degree of certainty, where much of the landfill came from and what’s in it. The Terrapex Environmental Ltd report identified petroleum hydrocarbons, antimony, lead, zinc, copper, cadmium, acenaphthylene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(b)fiuoranthene, fluoranthene, indeno(c)pyrene, and naphthalene which they believed was in the landfill based on documents they were able to inspect. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

The airpark is a 190+ acre site which means significant water runoff. No one has mapped where water actually goes once it seeps into the ground but hundreds of homes are tied into the water table up there and they all draw from wells. Both the city and the residents want to know what’s in the water.

Water is an environmental issue – enter the provincial Ministry of the Environment, who do the testing. Now here is where it gets totally ridiculous – watching different levels of government bicker stupidly over who can have what in the way of data and ground water inspection plans.  This is not about bureaucratic turf – this is about the safety of the water people have to drink.

In correspondence between the city and the MOE it was determined that on August 27, 2013, the Airpark provided the ministry with a detailed groundwater monitoring program to assess the ground water quality down gradient of the fill area. MOE provided comments on the plan which were then addressed by the Airpark. The city learned that the plan has been finalized and the ministry is satisfied that the plan will assess whether the fill operations are causing, or may cause, any offsite impacts.

City staff sent a request to Mr. Vince Rossi on September 9, 2013, requesting that the Airpark provide the plan and details for the groundwater investigation to occur at the down-gradient property boundary to assess whether the fill operations on the airpark lands have resulted in offsite impacts. Staff was of the understanding that a monitoring plan was arranged between MOE staff and the Airpark during a meeting at which City staff were not permitted to be present.

The Airpark responded on Sept 9, that due to the litigation matters between the City and the Airpark, the requested plan and details would not be provided. City staff haven’t heard a word from the Airpark since on the issue. So much for winning the court case.

This culvert manages some of the runoff from airpark property than empties onto the Cousins property on Appleby Line. Everyone wants to know what is in that water.

The Airpark and the MOE do have some data, but, you’ll love this – both the Airpark and MOE have taken the position that they are unable to release the details of the proposed groundwater monitoring plan directly to City staff. MOE staff did indicate that records could be obtained through a Freedom of Information Request to the MOE.

On Sept 16, the MOE provided correspondence acknowledging receipt of the FOI request for each of the municipal addresses associated with the airpark lands (5351 Appleby Line, 5296-5342 Bell School Line).

On Sept 19 MOE said no records existed for 5351 Appleby Line. On Oct 8, the MOE did say records were available for 5296-5342 Bell School Line. The response indicated that approximately 219 pages of material could be obtained, for the requested fees, but that these pages would provide only partial access to the information requested. It was indicated that the identity of any complainants would be removed, in order to protect their identity. Further, it was indicated that any third-party related information would require notification to the third-party

This area is flooded most of the time making the adjacent field useless for farming purposes – more importantly – what’s in that water?

To initiate the release of the information, City staff submitted the requested payment on Oct 15. No timetable was given in the MOE’s letter as to when the material would be available. The city then received a communication from the MOE on October 28 indicating that “after a detailed review of the records, it appears that disclosure affects the interests of a third party”.

Do you want to guess who that third party is?

Don’t leave yet – it gets worse.

The city wanted some clarification on the FOI process and procedures. They talked to Mr. Fred Ruiter, who is Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Reviewer for the MOE. Mr. Ruiter confirmed a number of things, including that there was a mixup with notifying the third party, and that notification was not received until Nov 12. Mr. Ruiter indicated that there would be a 30 day response window from this date of notification, during which the third party could consent or object to the release of the information. Further to this, once a response is received by the MOE, there is a 10 day window for the MOE to decide whether or not to release information. Should the third party object to the release, and the MOE decides to release the information anyway, the third party would have the right to appeal this decision. Mr. Ruiter indicated that in a scenario of appeal, no final decision would likely be made for approximately six to nine months, as this is the typical timeline for the appeal process to proceed.

Don’t you just love it? For this taxpayers carry the cost of paying these people, providing them with close to majestic benefits and sending them off to retirement with a package the rest of us dream of getting. Totally ridiculous.

Is the water in that pond polluted?

City staff are in the process of trying to arrange a meeting with MOE staff in December to discuss these matters. It would appear that the city and the MOE don’t have the smoothest of working relationships.

The city is bending over backwards to get a meeting with Dolly Goyette – MOE Central Region and Alison Rodrigues – MOE Halton.

We will keep you posted.



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9 comments to Idiocy reigns within the provincial bureaucracy; city staff may need help from a support group – airpark situation ludicrous.

  • Stephanie Cooper-Smyth

    You’re kidding about “Lame Lancaster”, right Veronica? Anything that’s in her file is probably going straight to Vince Rossi.

    How long before that community insists that she be recused from partaking in any legal strategic discussions or receiving any documents regarding the Airpark?

    Her very public and demonstrative relationship with (and concern for) Rossi and her lack of any representation of her constituents whatsoever speak directly to a serious conflict of interest.

    Has she even ‘pretended’ to want a meeting with her rural constituents?

    Tell us your kidding, Veronica!

    • James Douglas

      I must agree with most of what you have said. Part of the problem is that arrogance makes people not care and think that they will simple win elections regardless of people like you and me. We cant INSIST she declare a conflict, that is up to her. But we can certainly take her to court over it for breach of the Municipal Act if you have some clear proof. I will certainly contribute to any legal costs required, and might even be able to secure a lawyer to take her on pro bono. Im so fed up with what I personally view as pathetic representation, but someone too arrogant to care about the views of the community. Is this a case of shiny car, no engine?

    • Veronica Rottenburger

      I would suggest to you that such accusations of wrong doing by Lancaster are not fair, unless supported by factual evidence. Incompetence does not always equate to conflict of interest and/or ethical misconduct, as you and some others enjoy implying. Dont forget, Lancaster was not on the file when the dumping started, and it is not solely her responsibility to deal with the situation. The responsibility also lies with the other members of council and staff.

      • Joseph Plutnam

        Implying that something is going “straight to Rossi” is an accusation without proof; see initial post from an accusatory Stephanie Cooper-Smyth. Such accusations are potentially damaging and could invite unwarranted damage to a person’s reputation. Lancaster really has done nothing wrong until proven otherwise.

  • Veronica Rottenburger

    Had the city engaged the matter 5 years ago, none of this circus would be happening now. There’s no excuse for civil servants to behave in this manner of non-cooperation. Ridiculous. Legal costs? is this something new for this city? Thank God that Lancaster is on the file now.

  • Kurt Koster

    Thanks for the update.
    The MOE could easily have made it a condition to the Aipark that all information re water testing and results be in the public domain.

  • Ken Woodruff

    Thanks for bringing to light a very curious situation at best and a very strange situation at worst. You have to get nervous when governments get secretive!

  • David Feuille

    And you’re not talking about Lancaster’s inaction on the file why? Please dont say she charmed you to the point of both wearing her red bag on your head AND giving her a free ride online unlike how you treat everyone else!

  • OK … Who is the “Third Party” in your piece?

    Water Quality Reports are partly the responsibility of Halton Region.

    The only available reports, according to the Halton homepage are for 2012 Calendar Year … with NO reference or data available for 2013 calendar year.

    This looks to me like a “Who Does What” DYSFUNCION carried forward from the ‘Harris Kremlin’ years. It seems the ONLY available resource to ANY government is THE TAXPAYER.


    “Drinking Water Quality Reports

    As a waterworks owner, Halton Region is required to provide information about the water that is delivered to consumers. This is done through annual reports.

    Our annual reports provide specific information about where your water comes from, what it contains, and how it compares to the Provincial Standards.

    Information for Residents with Private Wells … Reports are available for 2012 Calendar Year Only.

    Clicking on “Information for Residents with Private Wells” begets an INFORMATION PAGE ONLY—NO DATA