By Mike Anderson
Alan and Amy Rae, who own and operate Rae Family Farms in Pefferlaw, are disappointed with Transport Canada’s decision to allow Sutton Airport Development Inc. to proceed with construction of the Baldwin East Aerodrome near the intersection of Stoney Batter Rd. and Old Homestead Rd.
“I’m surprised that site is even being considered for an airport,” said Amy, whose farm at 24347 Stoney Batter Rd. is one property away from the aerodrome site.
“It’s on a wetland. It’s in the Greenbelt. As a farm, we are limited in what we can do because we’re in the Greenbelt. So how can an airport be okay?”
The couple is also skeptical that an aerodrome will ever be built. Like many of their neighbours, they believe the project is a fill site disguised as an aerodrome, and they want it stopped.
“There have been so many people we know who are pilots or who are knowledgeable about civil aviation that say it just doesn’t make sense to have an airport here,” Amy said.
“Everything is working against it regarding elevations and wind directions.”
Amy and Alan also point out there is no infrastructure – municipal water and sewers, major hydro and suitable roads – to support an aerodrome.
And they say the company’s lack of transparency is another red flag.
Amy says they were the first to alert the Town about the sign on the site, 7486 Old Homestead Rd., announcing the public comment period had already begun.
“They seemed to be very sneaky. The signs, for example, weren’t put in a very visible location. They also said they notified people, but people didn’t seem to get the letters,” she said.
“There was a great effort to keep it all under the table like they didn’t want the community to know what’s going on.”
Amy and Alan’s biggest fear is that the aerodrome will become a fill site, like the Greenbank Airport, which received thousands of tons of contaminated fill between 2012 and 2015, forcing the Township of Scugog to take legal action to get it cleaned-up.
The couple says any contaminated fill could potentially poison the water source for their livestock.
“The creek that goes through the aerodrome site comes through our property and travels down to the lake,” Amy said.
“If they’re bringing in contaminated fill, what does that mean to our creek? Our wells? What does that mean to our livestock? It’s very concerning to us.”
“It could, over time, poison our cows because they get their water from the creek and our wells,” said Alan.
“It’s the contaminated fill that’s the issue with all those other airports, where they’ve brought it in and never did anything with it.”
Amy adds it’s not just the livestock people should be worried about.
“Everybody in this area is on wells. There is no municipal water or sewers in any of Pefferlaw or Virginia. Our water is all coming from the ground. So what does contaminated fil do to everybody’s water source?”
“We just put a new barn this year. This is our forever home. We’re planning to stick it out for the long haul. But if contaminated fill is affecting our water quality, we’ve got serious issues,” she said.
“If it just amounted to planes overhead, we could live with that. It’s the other things they’re changing environmentally that I don’t see how it won’t impact us.”
While they appreciate all the Town of Georgina and MP Davidson have done to oppose the aerodrome, they’re surprised that environmental groups, the Chippewas of Georgina Island, the Conservation Authority (LSRCA) and our local MPP Caroline Mulroney have not been more vocal in their opposition.
“The Town is trying to do as much as they can, but, unfortunately, it’s completely out of their control,” Amy said.
“From what I understand, it’s now up to the other levels of government to enforce the environmental aspect of it. But who’s appointed to that? Who’s stepping up?
“We’re all screaming and we still haven’t heard anything. It’s just getting swept under the rug, or they are passing the buck.”
“How do we deal with this; short of tying ourselves to fence posts out there?”
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