By Mike Anderson
Pefferlaw residents are stepping up their efforts to stop the Baldwin East aerodrome from getting off the ground.
A House of Commons petition, drafted by Pefferlaw resident Karen Wolfe, calling on Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to reverse his recent approval of the project, has received more than 1,300 signatures.
Wolfe, a journalist and spokesperson for the Pefferlaw Area Ratepayers (PAR), is confident that more people will sign before the petition closes on March 13.
The 350-acre aerodrome with two all-weather landing strips, a hangar and outbuildings, proposed by Sutton Airport Development Inc., is slated to be built near the intersection of Stoney Batter Rd and Old Homestead Rd in Pefferlaw, with construction beginning this year.
However, residents, environmental groups and the Town of Georgina have raised concerns that the 1.2 million cubic metres of fill required to build the aerodrome, especially if contaminated, would significantly impact an environmentally sensitive area comprised of wetlands, groundwater aquifers, natural habitats and a creek that flows into Lake Simcoe.
“The positive thing about this petition is the guy who actually gave the green light to this project is going to have to defend his decision once this petition gets tabled in the House of Commons,” Wolfe said.
“It’s also going to give our MP Scot Davidson another opportunity in the House of Commons to raise the issue.”
Wolfe says the petition also helps keep residents engaged.
“People want to do something. They can’t go out there and stop it. But they can put their name on a federal petition that will be presented in the House of Commons. And I think they’re going to feel good about that,” she said.
Wolfe said PAR is also starting a flyer campaign this week to help build support, attract volunteers, and raise donations for the cause.
“We’re hopefully going to raise awareness around this issue because there’s still a lot of people who really don’t know what’s going on,” she said.
“By taking these flyers door-to-door, we can engage the homeowner. And the more we do that, the stronger we become.”
Wolfe says PAR is also meeting with local officials, including MP Scot Davidson, MPP Caroline Mulroney, and York Region Chair Wayne Emmerson to discuss the issue.
Emmerson, for instance, was asked if Old Homestead Rd could be designated a half-load road year-round, potentially reducing the amount of fill each dump truck could take to the site.
According to the company, 120,000 dump truck loads of fill — approximately 100 a day — will be required to build the aerodrome over three years.
PAR is also requesting that the Town of Georgina strictly enforce its site alteration bylaw, permitting the company to dump only Table 1 soils or topsoil.
It also wants the Town to reject any fill from a transfer station, as there is a significant risk, according to Wolfe, that it may be contaminated.
Although she acknowledges that PAR, with limited financial resources, faces an uphill battle against the federal government, Wolfe is cautiously optimistic.
“I feel much more positive now than I did in early December. I’m thrilled by the response and support we’ve gotten from the community,” she said.
“There’s a lot of power in people, and hopefully, it will have an effect.”
To sign the petition, visit www.petitions.ourcommons.ca.
To volunteer or donate to PAR’s campaign, call (705) 437-1216 or email Karenwolfegp@gmail.com.
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