By Mike Anderson
Pefferlaw residents voiced their concerns over a proposed aerodrome during a Pefferlaw Association of Ratepayers (PAR) meeting held Monday night at the Lions Hall.
The PAR meeting, called principally to elect a new board of directors, was forced to focus on the proposed aerodrome, which would feature two paved all-weather runways, a flying clubhouse, and an aircraft hangar to be built near Stoney Batter Rd. and Old Homestead Rd.
That’s because residents only became aware of the aerodrome last week after the company behind the project, New Ontario Aerodrome 2021, placed a sign on the site.
Karen Wolfe, elected as PAR’s new advocacy specialist, said the association did not have enough information yet to take an official position on the aerodrome proposal.
Still, that didn’t stop residents from expressing their frustration with the federal approval process, which they believe lacks transparency, limits public consultation and straight-jackets the Town of Georgina.
The public comment period for the proposed aerodrome began on November 5 and ends on December 22.
According to Transport Canada, comments must be directed to the proponent of the aerodrome and not the federal agency.
The proponent will provide a summary report of comments, including objections, to Transport Canada as part of the approval process.
Transport Canada also recommends the public contact the proponent directly to obtain specific information related to the proponents themselves or their plans for the aerodrome once built.
The proponent’s contact is Mauro Marchioni, a lawyer with a practice in Vaughan. But, so far, he has declined to provide additional information, instead directing people to the proposal website.
Helen and Derwin McKeegan, who live next to the proposed aerodrome, say there has been a severe lack of communication, and Transport Canada’s approval process is seriously flawed.
They say they only found out about the aerodrome when a neighbour drove up to their house and told them about it.
“We never received anything in the mail. And now they’re saying within a month and a half, we have to respond to it,” said Derwin McKeegan.
“If you don’t drive by their sign, and a lot of people don’t drive down that road, you won’t know about it.”
“We don’t even know who to approach and who to talk to because the information on the sign is misleading. You’re leaving your comment, basically, with the lawyer that’s trying to run it all.”
“Transport Canada will be getting false information back because the lawyer is going to sugar coat it,” added Helen.
Helen is worried that planes will fly directly over her house, preventing her daughter, who works nights, from getting a decent sleep.
“It’s constant noise and disturbance. Planes don’t have mufflers. And when they leave, it’s not just the roar of the engine; it’s the roar of the prop,” Derwin said. “It will drive us crazy.”
Rich, who spoke at the meeting but declined to provide his surname, warns the aerodrome could become Buttonville north.
“It’s not a small airport. Those runaways are a kilometre long. And, when we consider the flight path, they’re going to be flying over our houses. They’re going to be coming straight over the town, he said.
“My wife’s mother lives right across the street from Buttonville. You hear the planes coming in; it’s all day, every day.”
Along with the noise, Rich is worried about light pollution.
“There are two runways, and they’re going to be fully lit. That’s means they’re going to be operating 24-7, and that means we are going to have a huge amount of light pollution.”
Rich also doesn’t buy the argument that the aerodrome would be good for the local economy.
“It’s not good for business because they didn’t build the roads. They haven’t built any infrastructure to support it.”
Kevin Hutchings, owner of Hutchings Farm on Morning Glory Rd, is also opposed to the aerodrome.
“It’s not proper land use for the area,” he said.
“We already have an airport, the Baldwin airport. The idea of a second airport is unnecessary.”
Hutchings is concerned the new aerodrome could be used as a fill site, like the Greenbank airport, which received thousands of tons of contaminated fill, forcing the Township of Scugog to take legal action against waste disposal companies.
“What was proposed as an airport has now become a derelict dumping site. And we certainly don’t want to see the same thing happen on Old Homestead.”
Hutchings believes the aerodrome can only be stopped if residents take immediate action.
“We have to speak up, get politicians engaged. The Town has limited authority in this; we have to get on our federal representatives and voice our concerns.”
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