Landfill dumping is wrecking the lifestyle and peaceful use of an Appleby Line property – obscene behaviour.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 6, 2013. This is obscene!

That is the only way to describe what is being done to the property on the north and south side of the home Barbara Sheldon owns on Appleby Line.

Sheldon has a home on a nice lot that has a large spring fed pond that is home to a number of geese who watch over their goslings with a wary eye.

Some time ago, back in 2008, Sheldon noticed that the land on either side of her was being built up with landfill which didn’t seem all that bad at first – other than the noise from the trucks and the heavy construction equipment that seemed to be running around every day.  But it began to get out of hand and she now has a wall of earth more than 30 feet high on the north side of her property less than 50 feet from her kitchen window.

The south side of the Sheldon property on June 5th.

A few weeks ago this matter made its way to a city council meeting where it was clear the city, while aware of the situation didn’t have a grip on what was going on.

South side on the the 25th of May. The trucks just keep on rolling in and dumping fill.

Most people felt that kind of thing could not be done in north Burlington and that someone would step in to put a stop to the landfill operation.

And the trucks just keep on coming. No protection for this taxpayer from anyone.  Landfill continues to get dumped on the south side of the property.

What stunned everyone was that there didn’t appear to be much the city could do.  There was nothing the Niagara Escarpment Commission could do – the property that was being filled with landfill was just outside their boundary.

Many felt the Conservation Authority would be able to step in.  They are looking at the options which turn out to be pretty close to zilch.

The city learned that there really isn’t much they can do – the land is defined as an air park that comes  under the jurisdiction of the federal government; specifically the department of transport.

The people over there aren’t pleased but they do admit that the property is an air park and that is comes under their jurisdiction.

Monte Dennis argues that what happens on the land may be under federal jurisdiction but the land itself and what people can do with it is local and that the city can actually do something.  But they have to get up on their hind legs and begin to bark.

It isn’t quite that easy and the city is looking into the problem and figuring out what their options really are.  This is brand new territory for the city and they are up against a seemingly predatory land owner who doesn’t show his face that much.

Our Burlington has been trying to meet with Vince Rossi and while he says he’d love to meet – dates don’t get set.  Rossi sends his lawyer to handle the problems.  There is a very significant amount of money involved – perhaps in the tens of millions in revenue earned from allowing people to dump what is believed to be untested land fill on the site.

Turns out there are some 10,000 of these small air parks which are usually the location for small flight training schools.  The amount of work being done on the land suggests that there are plans for a much larger operation which has north Burlington residents upset.  Others suggest that there are no plans for a larger airport – that the dumping of landfill was just a way to make some very good money.  The understanding is that each truck of landfill dumped generates $50 in revenue and that given the amount of dirt being dumped – some $2.5 million in revenue has been generated.

That is not exactly chump change.

What the city is facing is a property/business owner who appears to have found a loophole that generates a significant income.

It looks like a lovely, close to idyllic country property – until you look to the north and the south and see mountain of earth that have destroyed the value of the property. And the air park neighbour seems to be able to get away with it.

What we know for certain is that we have a property/business owner who doesn’t show himself very much.  Vince Rossi, understood to be the owner of the Burlington Executive Air Park, did have one meeting with the Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring who listened to what Rossi had to say and suggested he develop a business plan and let the city see what he had in mind.  That was the last of the Mayor saw of Rossi.

When the Mayor visited the site a week ago he was stunned with what he saw and put himself in touch with the city manager quickly to push for more action on the administration side.  Were the Mayor to return to the site today he would see a 20 foot + wall of landfill in the south side of the property that wasn’t there when he visited.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster has apparently not visited the site and many of the people in rural Burlington think its time to look for a better candidate to represent the interests of that community.

This is just such close to violent disregard for the rights of ones neighbours.  The city does need to step in and do something.  What can they do?

City General Manager Scott Stewart was given the file and instructed to hire a consultant who could advise the city on just what its options are.  The aeronautical sector is complex – it is a world of its own with many layers of administration.

Finding someone with the experience the city is going to need is easier said than done “We can’t just flip through the yellow pages and find what we want” explained Stewart.  He is confident he will find what the city needs but it isn’t going to be easy and it isn’t going to happen quickly.

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.

The city will need someone who fully understands the regulatory side of the business and probably have something in the way of a legal background.

“At this point” said Stewart, “we don’t even know what we don’t know.”  This is a whole new field of endeavour for the city.

The comment section of Our Burlington on this situation has many entries; many are what are called “flame throwers” remarks that have one person accusing another.

Andrew Forbes commented that:  “I suppose I could say that the name-calling has begun by people who make unfounded claims of criminal behaviour while not revealing their real names, hiding like cowards behind the supposed anonymity of the Internet. If you want to call people names like “bully” to their faces, “Jake”, at least have the simple courage and decency to do it in the open, with your real name. Some of us are trying to have a civilized, fact-based discussion here. Others, apparently, are more interested in hiding behind pseudonyms and taking anonymous pot-shots at what they see as an easy target. It’s so easy to vilify without taking the trouble to understand or to listen.

Real accusations have been made here. You should not expect, if you are one of those people, that you don’t have a responsibility for what you say, or that there will be no consequences for being a jerk just because you’re doing it online. I don’t know Mister Rossi well, but I do know that I don’t see a schoolyard bully here. What I do see is a mob mentality: a bunch of people calling names, making unsubstantiated accusations of criminal behaviour, and piling on, all without having the simple decency to even tell everyone who they are.”

Forbes doesn’t say that he is a pilot and represents other pilots and their interests.

It is a mess and it needs attention.  Time for the buck passing to stop.

Sheldon believes she is being targeted by the land owner because she has stood up and complained very loudly.  while she doesn’t say so – one can tell that she fears for her personal safety.  That’s not the kind of city we live in – is it?

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