North Burlington residents petition the MOE – but they don’t make their demands public.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 16. 2014


While the current city manager is out looking for new digs in Calgary as he transitions from one city to another, the business of the city still has to move forward.

The Development and Infrastructure Committee released their 12th Update on Air Park matters earlier in the week.  The appeal by the Air Park to the decision handed down in Ontario Superior Court will be heard on June 11th – quite a few people from Burlington will be trooping into town for that event; we understand that most of the ward 6 candidates will be in that courtroom in Toronto to take it all in.

Airpark aerial used by the city

How much of the landfill on the Air Park property is toxic and how toxic? – are questions both the city and the residents want answered. The answers to those questions are tangled up in Privacy red tape.

While all this is taking place both the city and north Burlington residents want to know – just what is in all that landfill that was dumped on the site in the past five years?

Everyone suspects there is some level of toxicity in that landfill.  The city hired Terrapex to do some tests and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment got onto the property and did tests of their own.

In their appeal the Air Park took significant exception to the reports provided to the city by Terrapex and challenged some of the data.

At some point there will be a decision on what the Air Park has to do – at this point there is a decision from a judge saying the Air Park has to comply with the municipal by law.  That decision stands until a higher court overturns it.

Will the city require the Air Park to remove all of the landfill or just some of the landfill or maybe the city will decide it can all stay in place?

What will determine the direction the city takes, assuming the Air Park appeal is lost depends on just what is in all that earth.

And other than the Terrapex report – we don’t know.

The Ministry of the Environment did testing but they haven’t released the information.  Why?  Privacy issues.  Someone, believed to be the Air Park, has taken the position that the information is private and cannot be released without the permission of the person whose privacy is being harmed.

Many in the community find this both incredible and close to unbelievable. But it is a real problem for the city who now have planners working their way through the privacy process.  Planner Mike Crowe started out by asking the MOE for the information; they said no and the city used the Freedom of Information process to get the information.  When the MOE continued to say no – the city asked for a mediation – and that is where things are at the moment.

If a mediation fails the city can up the pressure and ask that their Freedom of Information request be adjudicated.  It does get messy and very bureaucratic.

DEAD fish in pond  at shore - longer view April 2014 (5)

Are these dead fish victims of a hard winter – or was there something in the pond water that did them in. The owner of the property is very anxious and wants to know why previous landfill testing results are not available. They see this as a matter of opublic health and not individual privacy rights.

She called the Ministry of the Environment who had some of their people out on the property testing within a day.  The belief in north Burlington is that the landfill is toxic, that the MOE knows it is toxic but can’t say so publicly because of the privacy mess.

But a request for testing of pond water that had hundreds of dead fish will give both the MOE and the property owner some additional data.

View of pond against north fill hill April 2014 (2)

That rise of land behind the pond on an Appleby Road property is not a natural feature – it is a 30 foot + hill made up of landfill that was placed on the land without proper approvals. Water seeping through that landfill flows into the pond.

North Burlington residents aren’t stopping there.  They have prepared a petition and sent it along to the MOE people.  The petition is from the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition (RBGC), but they aren’t releasing the contents of that petition.  One of the things they do want is better transparency from the MOE. 

The MOE is prepared to meet with the community – but until the privacy issues are cleared up – there isn’t all that much they can do.

What we have is two level of bureaucracy fighting with each other over test data that is critical to understanding what the problems really are – with the owner of the property using privacy rules to keep the information confidential.


The north Burlington locals don’t help their cause all that much when they withhold the contents of their petition to the MOE.  What is it they want and is it reasonable?

Background files:

In the beginning the buck got passed around.

Record length city hall debate on Air Park site.

Air Park digs in its heals.

City seeks an injunction to stop landfill dumping.

Air Park sues the city – city takes off the gloves.

City wins Air Park court case


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7 comments to North Burlington residents petition the MOE – but they don’t make their demands public.

  • Joan

    Mabe someone should seek advice from Erin Brockovic.

  • Stephanie Cooper-Smyth

    Vincenzo Rossi – we know you follow this website, you’ve even posted on it. So if you can see this now, which may be difficult considering how exponentially your nose grew while crafting that exceptional ‘tale’ for the Spectator, get this:

    You have accepted hundreds of thousands of truckloads of (contaminated) fill since 2008, and all you’ve got to show for ‘improvements’ is: you paved over a grass runway, you’ve done some alterations to your main runway, you’ve built a few hangers.

    Really?? Hundreds of thousands of truckloads of fill every year since 2008…for just that?? How much longer are you going to try and dupe the good folks of Burlington?

    And one more thing, Vincenzo Rossi: According to the information submitted to Hizzoner at the hearing last year, the income from the hundreds of thousands of trucks to which you sold dumping rights, (last figure released was $85.00 per truck) for ‘improving’ your airpark”, doesn’t even appear on the Airpark’s financial statements in 2011, 2012 or 2013. (Hello CRA?)

    As for the legacy of the airpark, (“it’s long and accomplished history in Halton”), which you are attempting to claim: How dare you hijack the reputation and relations that the Kovachik’s built!

    Since you bought the airpark, Vincenzo Rossi, all you have done is destroyed the environment, misled and deceived the authorities, ruined the lives and threatened the safety of the neighboring community. That is YOUR legacy.

    Why don’t you just go to where ever you sent all the money you earned from accepting all that toxic landfill – you are neither believed nor wanted here by citizens of Burlington.

  • Rob Narejko

    It is hard to believe that our legal system allows an individual or a corporation’s right to privacy to be intact, when the actions of that individual / corporation are detrimental to the quality of life of others.

    The tests were paid for by our government and the government is empowered on our behalf to look after the interests of the citizens. The materials from the land fill / dump are more than likely leaching onto other people’s property. The information from the MOE study should be made public without having to resort to Freedom of Information requests.

    I give the City credit for jumping on this issue and for their approach. The rights of one person or corporation should not trump the community’s rights to know what is there. Without knowing what is there, how will it ever be re-mediated? And what happens to the environmental concerns and the adjacent owner’s property value?

    PS Check out the ‘scenic’ asphalt piles dumped in the field on the west side of Walker’s Line, just north of the 407 overpass. It will be interesting to see why this road waste material was allowed to be dumped in an agricultural field. Or was it?

    • Roger

      Bob could not have gotten it any better. The article in the Spec as self serving and deficent on fact.

  • Bob

    The following article appeared in today’s Hamilton Spectator.

    Rossi claims to be hard done by, with the actions taken by the Mayor, City senior staff, and local residents. How dare they exert their authority and/or lack of understanding in trying to stop an honest individual trying to make a living and improvements that all will reap the rewards of.
    What an ASS!

    Airpark improvements up in the air
    City of Burlington and neighbours at odds with airport’s use of fill
    By Vince Rossi

    As the owner of the Burlington Executive Airpark, I am proud of our long and accomplished history in Halton Region.

    The airpark opened in 1962. Since that time, it has served as a flight training centre, an aircraft maintenance base, a recreational flying facility and a key transportation hub for Halton residents and businesses.

    Thousands of pilots have received their training at Burlington Airpark, many of whom are now airline pilots who safely transport thousands of Canadians every day. The training and maintenance facilities, along with the charter services, are independently owned and provide skilled employment opportunities for our community. In addition, there are jobs for those who provide services to the airpark and the businesses located there.

    Many leading companies, including Ford Motor Company, Mercedes-Benz Canada, Evertz Microsystems and L-3 Communications, use the airpark for the transportation of people and key materials.

    … every test of neighbouring streams and wells has met or surpassed federal and provincial environmental standards.

    The airpark is also used for patient transfers and organ donation flights, given its proximity to medical institutions that serve Burlington, Milton, Oakville, Mississauga and Hamilton.

    Ontario’s air ambulance service uses special facilities installed at the airpark for advanced training.

    The airpark is also used for law enforcement, search and rescue, military and ambulance flights.

    Finally, the airpark is home to a thriving recreational aviation community. It is the host of community service events such as educational flights for school groups, the semi-annual Big Brothers Big Sisters Airlift and serves as a partner and rest stop in the PwC Epic Tour Halton, a regional biking event.

    There is a shortage of smaller general aviation airports in southern Ontario with reasonable proximity to cities. The airpark is a unique and essential asset for Halton Region.

    But we want to improve and do more.

    I purchased the airpark from the Kovachik family in 2006, having done my own flight training here.

    Since then, I have invested more than $4 million in infrastructure improvements. I have not received financial assistance from any level of government. This has included widening and improving both runways, adding taxiways, improving the refuelling facilities and building additional hangars.

    We have always been open about our plans and goals to improve the airpark. Over the years, we have posted plans on our website and we have held a yearly reception as well several open houses and barbecues that have been attended by neighbours, airpark users and politicians of every level. At these events, we have shown our improvements and plans for the future.

    Our efforts to improve the airpark were halted in July of last year, after complaints were raised by a few of our neighbours, some of whom had only recently purchased their homes. They made unsubstantiated claims that the fill being imported to level the remaining airpark lands was waste, which, of course, it was not.

    The situation then became political. City of Burlington councillors repeated the unsubstantiated rumours of contamination. The City of Burlington, citing its site-alteration bylaw, took steps to stop the improvements. Despite the fact the airpark is federally regulated, we met with the councillors, city officials and our neighbours to try to address everyone’s concerns reasonably. Notwithstanding, the mayor of Burlington publicly vowed to take whatever steps the city could to stop the infilling.

    To be clear, every test of neighbouring streams and wells has met or surpassed federal and provincial environmental standards. There have been six inspections, studies and/or tests carried out since 2009. None have indicated a problem with the fill or an adverse impact on local water. Further, after discussions with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the airpark is in the process of voluntarily completing the most comprehensive study to date by carrying out a test well program.

    Sadly, we and the city are spending time and money in court to find out whether the city is entitled to control improvements at the airpark. During the past 60 years, courts across this country have held that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over the location, design and materials used to build and improve airports. There are more than 1,400 airports across Canada. It would be chaos if each one was subjected to different municipal standards, which is what the courts have consistently held. We hope for a resolution in June.

    I’ve always respected our neighbours and the City of Burlington and was hopeful that we could have reached a compromise that protected and enhanced the interests of all parties.

    In the meantime, the Burlington Executive Airpark will continue to serve the interests of our community, and our region. We’re here for the long term and look forward to moving forward with our neighbours.

    Vince Rossi is the owner of Burlington Airpark Inc.

    • Mr. Rossi.
      The Kovachik family opened the airpark in 1962, and for 44 years operated in harmony with its neighbours and its rural surroundings. You are not allowed to capitalize on that history. The history that you’re accountable for is amounting to an environmental disaster in our pristine protected countryside, and you may not manipulate that truth unchallenged anymore.

      This is not an airpark improvement issue. This is a landfill issue, a water protection issue, a storm water management issue, a truck entrance and road use issue, and a property destruction and flooding issue.

      Are we to celebrate that you’ve spent money to improve your for-profit business? Who doesn’t do that? You say you’ve spent 4 million in improvements, but what about the income you’ve made from charging for untold hundreds of thousands of tons of unregulated fill? What about the protected watercourse you’ve destroyed? What about the regionally significant woodlot you gutted? The cost to the environment, the community and the City for your ‘improvements’ has been too high to bear.

      Ask your immediate neighbours – none of whom have “recently purchased their homes” – how things have improved for them? Flooded fields are unfarmable. Backyards and septic beds are underwater from silted run off. Sight lines and property enjoyment are destroyed. Anxiety about well water safety is high, and you will not permit the MOE to release on-site testing data. Writing that you’ve “always respected your neighbours…” is more than untrue; it’s cruel.

      There are no unsubstantiated claims. Terrapex Environmental found unacceptably high levels of contaminants like hydrocarbons and heavy metals in the paltry 52 soil reports you were able to provide. Off-site water testing may be fine to date (again, where’s the data?), but how long might it take for those contaminants to leach into wells?

      The City of Burlington legally won the right to impose it’s Site Alteration Bylaw on airpark property, and yet you still will not comply. The community would truly love to know that your property is NOT full of contaminated fill – why don’t you give us the verified, third-party data to prove it?

      We are all so weary of your attempts to manipulate. Standing up to you and stopping the trucks was never political, it was ethical, and you have no ethical credibility left.

      Vanessa Warren

      Hamilton Spectator, please don’t publish this man’s letters anymore. The community around this airpark has been under siege since 2007 and the negative psychological impact of unbalanced coverage like this is enormous.

      Ford Motor Company, Mercedes-Benz Canada, Evertz Microsystems, L-3 Communications, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and PwC Epic Tour Halton – are you comfortable being cited in this letter?