By Mike Anderson
Karen Wolfe is taking the fight against the Baldwin East Aerodrome to Ottawa next week.
Wolfe will lead a group of 20 protestors on Parliament Hill on June 14. The plan is to meet up with York-Simcoe MP Scot Davidson and hold an in-person demonstration for about three hours, from 12 noon to 3 p.m.
Wolfe is encouraging people who want to join the protest to contact her. And she’s asking them to make signs that say “Stop the Aerodrome” or “Save Lake Simcoe.”
Wolfe, a spokesperson and advocate for Pefferlaw Area Residents (PAR), has spearheaded lobbying efforts to stop Sutton Airport Development Inc. from building the aerodrome on Old Homestead Rd., which could see 1.2 million cubic metres of fill dumped on environmentally protected lands.
Wolfe admits that the demonstration will not get Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to reverse his position on the aerodrome. But she hopes that it might attract some national media coverage.
“We don’t think we’re going to change anybody’s mind by going there, but we are hoping to get national media attention,” she said.
“That could put more pressure on the transportation minister because right now he thinks he’s fighting a very small, tiny little community, which won’t hurt him if he doesn’t reverse his decision on this.”
“If we can get national support, and there are people out there in communities where this has happened to them or is going to happen to them, maybe the pressure will mount on him to look at the Aeronautics Act and make it so local government has a say in this whole thing because right now they don’t.”
While the recent announcement that Markham’s Buttonville Airport will close by November underlines the need for a replacement, Wolfe doesn’t believe the Baldwin East Aerodrome is the answer.
“That was their song and dance when they submitted their application. But it’s not a location for Buttonville. It’s way too far from Toronto. People would have to fly here and then get a cab or Uber to Toronto. It makes no sense.”
Wolfe believes the real intent is to create a dump site under the guise of an aerodrome.
“They want to make $18 million on tipping fees for 1.2 million cubic metres of fill. Other municipalities have received similar aerodrome proposals under the federal jurisdiction, which circumvent local soil bylaws. In my opinion, that’s what’s happening here.”
“If you or I tried to do something like that, it wouldn’t happen. Georgina has a ban here. It’s an environmentally sensitive wetland. We couldn’t even build a little shack on that place.”
While Maurizio (Mauro) Marchioni, the company’s president and spokesperson, assured Georgina Town Council in 2021 that Sutton Airport Development Inc. would comply with soil regulations and not dump contaminated soil, Wolfe is skeptical.
She points to the misleading information that Marchioni provided council about his partner Wilf Goldlust, who he said had not been involved in the waste management industry for over a decade.
However, Goldlust was listed as director of Trillium Recovery Inc., a Toronto-based waste management company, and was found guilty of dumping contaminated soil in 2015.
“The guy’s been charged four times in the past. He’s been convicted and fined,” Wolfe said.
“They’ve lied in the past. So what makes them think I’m going to believe them now.”
Wolfe’s claims were recently validated by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Park’s (MECP) decision, on appeal, to overturn an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) that would have allowed Goldlust to operate a solid waste transfer station at 117 Disco Rd. in Toronto.
Wolfe initiated that appeal, on behalf of PAR, in early June and insisted the MECP review Goldlust’s prior convictions, which, according to Wolfe, were initially overlooked by MECP officials.
She believes the transfer station would have processed fill from Toronto construction sites before it was trucked to the aerodrome site in Pefferlaw.
“After submitting our Statement of Fact which focused on the historical bad behaviour of the applicant, the Ministry obviously realized that their original decision to grant approval for a waste transfer site was wrong. Now, we have to convince the Federal government that their decision to allow 1.2 million cubic metres of fill on environmentally sensitive lands, is also wrong,” Wolfe said.
But, while she hopes the MECP decision might help convince Alghabra to reconsider, she’s not holding her breath.
“He doesn’t have anything to do with fill. He has nothing to do with the proponents lying because he’s only going by the Act,” she said.
“All he worries about is have they, in their application, ticked off every box under the Aeronautics Act? He doesn’t think about anything else.”
“I’ve had enough of the people we are paying to protect us because they’re not protecting us. They’re not protecting us at all. They’re just trying to stay in power for another four years. That’s all they care about. “
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