By Mike Anderson
After months of speculation, the Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra has approved the construction of an aerodrome in Pefferlaw.
The aerodrome will be built by Sutton Airport Development Inc., near the intersection of Stoney Batter Rd. and Old Homestead Rd.
However, a construction date has not yet been announced.
According to York-Simcoe MP Scot Davidson, his office only recently found out the aerodrome was approved, after months of demanding an answer from the Minister.
MP Davidson was informed via email that the regulatory review is complete and that construction can commence whenever the proponent is prepared to start.
Moreover, Transport Canada does not require anything further from the proponent.
The federal decision to approve the aerodrome was made after residents raised concerns about the proponents long-standing connections to the waste management industry, and that the aerodrome might be a fill operation in disguise.
“This flawed approval process ignored the significant issues raised by myself and members of the community, including a lack of consultation by the proponents; environmental impacts; limited suitability and capacity for air traffic; and a lack of transparency surrounding the aerodrome’s proponents and objectives,” said Davidson in a media release.
“We have already seen corporations in places like Greenbank, Burlington, and Tottenham use loopholes in federal aerodrome regulations to exploit municipal soil laws for financial gain. They do this to dump tonnes of contaminated fill at a significant cost to the environment and to local taxpayers ─ but the Liberals have ignored this problem and did not even consider it when approving this aerodrome.”
Karen Wolfe, a spokesperson for the Pefferlaw Area Ratepayers (PAR), which opposes the project, also says residents concerns have been ignored.
“I am terribly disappointed in the Federal Liberals decision and hate the fact that all of the public engagement reaction was completely ignored,” Wolfe said.
“Why bother asking us what we think if you are not going to listen and just go ahead and approve it anyway?”
“The next steps will be for us to make sure that these provincial and local regulations are tough enough that the proponents will not be able to use the Federal approvals as a carte blanche opportunity to dump the fill, make a bundle of money and then walk away.”
Georgina Council, also frustrated with Transport Canada’s process, which allows a proponent to bypass municipal zoning bylaws and environmental protections, passed a resolution on April 13 opposing the project and calling on the federal government to review and update its aerodrome approvals legislation.
The resolution was forwarded to Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, as well as Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
However, there is no indication that the Ministry is moving forward with an official review.
According to the company’s proposal, the privately-funded project will offer year-round services to the recreational, private, charter and business aviation community.
The airport which would feature two paved all-weather runways, a flying clubhouse, and an aircraft hangar, is billed as a potential replacement for Markham’s Buttonville Airport, which is slated for redevelopment.
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