Libel chill going around: local media appears to have removed air park articles from their web sites.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 18, 2014

Burlington, ON.

Since first publishing this piece there have been a significant number of responses that have come directly to the publisher in which readers set out their individual experiences in finding information about the air park on web sites; particularly the insidehalton web site.  It is evident now that with precise, targeted searches on the insidehalton web site a lot of editorial material can be found.  Readers of this article should read the following article as well

A committed reader and one of the more plugged in people in rural Burlington sent us the following:

“I have been tracking for any coverage on the Burlington Airpark / Airport on Metro Media site (Spec and insideHalton) for some time. This weekend, all past articles on the Airpark have disappeared (there used to be a number of articles), and the return message shows that no search result found. What gives?

What gives indeed.

The Air Park Inc., has been popping out libel notices faster than a very active female rabbit.  The Gazette has been served libel notices on three occasions; Vanesa Warren, a candidate for city council in ward 6, has been served with a libel notice as has one of the Directors of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coaltion.

The notice the Gazette got demanded that we – well let’s let the Air Park Inc., lawyers tell you what they wanted.


 Reply to the Attention of  Peter E.J. Wells Direct Line  416-307-4007

Fax      416-865-7048

Email Address  

Our File No.       228177

Date         April 16, 2014


 Burlington Gazette 3142 Palmer Drive Burlington, Ontario L7M 1L4


Our Burlington Inc. 3142 Palmer Drive Burlington, Ontario L7M 1L4

Pepper Parr 3142 Palmer Drive, Burlington,  Ontario

L7M 1L4

Dear Sirs:

Certified Specialist

[Civil Litigation and Intellectual Property Law


 Re:       Burlington Airpark Inc. -Libel Notice to Burlington Gazette

 We are the solicitors for Burlington Airpark Inc., the operator of  the  Burlington  Executive Airport (collectively “Airport”). This letter is to serve as notice pursuant to s. 5(1) of the Libel and S!ander Act R.S .O. 1990 Chap. L.12.

Under    the    date    of    April     11,    2014    the     following     appeared     on    the    website h ttp://www.bur 1ingtongazette .ca/:

“Was it the cold winter that resulted in hundreds of dead fish floating on the pond of the Appleby Line property that is surrounded on three sides by the Air Park land fill or is the death of the fish the result of toxic and silt filled water now in the pond?

The argument as to whether the land fill was going to do any real damage has been simmering in the background.   Some (sic) testing was done but the

 A spring fed pond with hundreds of fish – normally. Today wasn’t a normal day on the Appleby Line property.

Hundreds of dead fish were floating on  the water this morning.

Ministry of the Environment got involved in a struggle over who was entitled to the information from their testing results -privacy issues came into play and the privacy officers at every level  of government seem to be taking the time they feel they needed to determine just who can see what.

The spring fed pond is yards away from a mountain of landfill that was never properly tested when it was dumped on the property.

Runoff from the landfill is now getting to the water table -dead fish are showing up in the pond.

Some of the evidence may have come to the surface – literally, for one resident. Hundreds of dead fish were found floating on her pond this morning . That pond is yards away from a 30 foot high pile of landfill that is in place in violation of the city’s site alteration bylaw.

The property owner advises that the Ministry of the Environment will be on her property later today to test for contamination in the pond.”

These publications are false and misleading in at least the following respects:

The soil was tested. Results to date in 2009 were reviewed by Region of Halton which reported to the City of Burlington: “The results for all criteria meet the Regional and Provincial standards (potable) as required in Table 2 of the Soil, Ground Water and Sediment Standards for Use Under Part XV.1 of the Environmental Protection Act.”

The Airport is not contaminating the groundwater. Multiple tests  by  Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE”) and  Halton  Region  have shown no impact on groundwater.

When the City of Burlington reported the results of the Halton Region testing of wells on properties bordering the Airport in its Burlington Executive Airport Update #6- September 9, 2013: “On August 23, city staff were sent an email by the Region of Halton regarding testing of wells on several properties adjacent to the airport. The email indicated that the MOE and the Halton Region Health Department were working together to sample and analyze the drinking water wells of homes located immediately adjacent to where the fill was placed on the airport site. Well water samples were collected by MOE staff from two properties. The samples were being analyzed for inorganics, volatile organic compounds, polycyclic  aromatic hydrocarbons  and petroleum hydrocarbons.

Results of this testing were provided to the Health Department. The results were then compared to the health-based Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards and the Ministry of Environment Table 2 Brownfields standards. The Region has indicated that no exceedances were reported. These results have been shared with the property owners. Permission was given by these property owners for the Health Department to share the results with city staff.”

These results were also discussed at the Burlington Development and Infrastructure Committee meeting on September 9, 2013 where it was reported: “On to Environmental matters on page 3 -the well testing. You can see the correspondence that’s come in from your CEO over at the Region of Halton.  That work is being done in co operation with the health unit.  That’s flowing through the good Doctor Nosal, so the results will continue; they have been shared with the property owners and the Health Department and we’ll get that information as it comes forward. Nothing negative at this stage and that is not unusual to see that there isn’t anything negative that would migrate from the site and be into any wells anyway, at this stage.”

The publication was actuated by malice justifying an award of punitive or exemplary damages, in that you caused these words to be published knowing them to be untrue, or being reckless as to their truth.  In particular the Airport will rely on:

The publication of an article dated April 9 2014 reporting on the filing of nomination papers by Vanessa Warren. The article, when fairly read, is an endorsement of her candidacy. The article repeats earlier defamatory claims that the Airport was importing “toxic landfill” and was running an “unlicensed landfill  operation”.  Both  these allegations are untrue. The July 16, 2013 article in which these claims were made is still available on the Burlington Gazette website, and the Airport claims with respect to these statements as well having been made less than one year prior to April 11, 2014.

The Burlington Gazette reported on the testing of neighbouring wells on August 5, 2013. This report is also inaccurate in claiming that the Terrapex study established that any contaminants were migrating from the Airport property. Terrapex did not comment on off-site impacts as that was not part of the scope of work assigned to it by the City of Burlington. In addition, it bad not done any testing that would have been required to comment on off-site impacts. The August 5, 2013 article in which the false claim that the Terrapex report was evidence of off-site impacts by the Airport is still available on the Burlington Gazette website, and the Airport claims with respect to that statement as well, having been made less than one year prior to April 11, 2014.Nevertheless , as a result of the reports by the City as set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 above, you knew or ought to have known that the tests of neighbouring wells showed no adverse impact due to the Airport and that the City of Burlington had advised the community that there wasn’t anything negative that would migrate from the site and be in any wells anyway. The failure to report these results was selective reporting intended to maintain the fiction  that  the Airport land was adversely impacting the neighbours, when the tests specifically performed to determine whether that was so were to the contrary.

Our instructions are to pursue legal proceedings unless the defamatory statements in the articles of April 11, 2014, July 16, 2013 and August 5, 20I3 are retracted and a full and fair apology satisfactory to our clients is published in the same fashion and in an equally prominent way as the statements specified in this notice.


LEGAL 22224578.1

Full disclosure: Some of the document formatting may have been lost in the transfer of the document from its original format and we corrected a few of the typographical errors.

Warren with nomination papers

Vanessa Warren filing her nomination papers. She is one of five candidates running for the Council seat. Blair Lancaster, the incumbent has yet to file her papers.

Since when is it libelous to endorse a candidate for political office?  The Gazette wrote articles on most of the candidates who have filed nomination papers.  We sincerely hope they don’t take what we write as an endorsement.

The libel notice served on Vanessa Warren called for her to retract and apologize and all that stuff – which will be difficult because it appears that the Letter to the Editor in the Spectator that Vince Rossie wrote apparently no longer appears in the on-line version of the paper.

The Gazette reprinted that Spectator Letter to the Editor and commented on the differences between what appeared in the Spectator and what now appears on the Air Park Inc. web site.  We got served with a third libel notice.  We may not know everyone who got served with a libel notice: our count at this point is a total of five notices  to three people.  Legal counsel took exception to a photograph of Mr. Rossi that we added to the re-print of the letter.  Some graphic content is frequently added to editorial content to dress up the page.

Metroland - search page graphic

You might not find all you would expect to find in this media.

And less harassment would serve everyone.  Libel chill has been used by people who don’t want to be “in the news”.  That chill appears to have wafted its way over to Metrolandmedia, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Toronto Star.  They know better and should be ashamed of their behaviour.

 Background links:

That letter in the Spectator.

Judge puts his thumb print on air park agreement.

Where was the ward Councillor when all this was happening?

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10 comments to Libel chill going around: local media appears to have removed air park articles from their web sites.

  • Marg Cromie

    Keep up the good work to save the rest of us

  • Monte

    Welcome back Pepper.

    Your news coverage is unique and is what most communities are missing.
    Many past events would have been solved much faster with the truth behind them being exposed.

    The truth is certainly agitating the Airpark folks since they are having to resort to sending out legal letters in an attempt to silence any opposition.

    Some would call this bullying.

  • Pasquale Poppano

    The notice of libel directed by Rossi is weak. The lawyer took Rossi’s money and sent a letter. Big deal, no effect, kind of embarrassing but also typical of bully tactics. Stupido.

    Rossi the bully is the only one guilty of malice.

    Justice will be served in next few weeks at appeal, but, the problem is all will fall back onto the city when Rossi loses the fight and his property and goes broke.

    The city staff and politicians are equally to blame for allowing the fill activity to commence and continue for over five years. If anything, Rossi can go sue the city for 50% of the clean up bill for virtually giving him the permission to conduct the fill activity.

    The city may become the proud new owners of a nice piece of land in northern Burlington, and may even have to buy the surrounding properties owned by affected property owners.

    If I owned property next to the bully’s site, I would be demanding the city buy my land because it was the city that allowed this activity to take place.

    • Stephanie Cooper-Smyth

      Yo Pasquale – word on the street is that COPA, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, has been footing Rossi’s legal bills. The general counsel of that organization is, in fact, one of Rossi’s lawyers – he’s the one who got shut down pretty fast by Jeff Fielding in his delegation to City Council last year.

      Wonder if the pilots across the country know they are financially suppporting this piece of s#*t. Too bad really, I’m willing to bet that if Rossi had to spend on dime on this fight, he’d probably have fled by done.

      I believe there’s a whole lot of folks wishing he’d flee NOW.

      To paraphrase the astute Gazette reader who wrote last Spring on Blair Lancaster’s capabilities as Ward 6 Councillor, ‘an asphalt grinding’ would have more ethics – and be a better corporate citizen (and neighbor)than Vincenzo Rossi.

      Editors note: There is no evidence whatsoever that COPA is financing the Air Park Inc. legal battles

  • Last year you were kind enough to post the information about the Halton Grandmothers Walk to raise awareness and funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. The GtoG Campaign provides support to African grandmothers caring for the millions of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Information about the 5th annual Stride Walk is below should you be able to include it again this year. Until I went to your site today, I had no idea you’d been experiencing so many challenges, physical and legal. Having had 2 hip replacements, I can empathize. I hope the other issues will be resolved to your satisfaction (and to your advantage). I learned a lot more about our city this morning from reading the Gazette. Marina

  • Stephanie Cooper-Smyth

    So let me get this straight:

    Vincenzo Rossi hid behind the Aeronautics Act to conduct a giant, suspicious fill business. Now, he is hiding behind his lawyers in an act to bury the historical public record of his fill operation and the effects it has had on people’s lives, environment and welfares?

    Are his victims, or anyone who’s objected to his fill business soon to be ‘buried’ as well?

    I think the residents of Rural Burlington better start using the buddy system whenever they leave their homes. And I suggest a telephonic head count every morning, and include Pepper Parr’s.

    Just sayin’….

  • Glenda Dodd

    So how does one keep up with what is happening at the Airpark. Can no one report any negative activity without being threatened by Airparks lawyer??? Is the City of Burlington negligent in asking for proper testing….I truly feel that there is a lot of privileged business people who control city hall both staff and council through who knows who and what is good for business and those who own the businesses trumps what is best for the ordinary citizens and home owners.

  • Bob

    Not sure what your reader is referring to. Just checked and found several articles relating to Burlington Airpark. What was noticed was the fact that all articles found were dated 2013.