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Airport manager to inform feds about resident concerns

Around 150 residents turned up to a town hall meeting in December to discuss their issues around the Oshawa airport.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

In response to safety concerns raised by residents during a town hall meeting, Oshawa’s airport manager is taking the next step to inform local Transport Canada inspectors that issues have been identified.

The town hall in question took place in December and saw approximately 150 residents turn out, many of them speaking out against the increasing traffic at the city’s aviation hub and berating local officials for a lack of openness regarding planning and future considerations.

However, one issue in particular seemed to catch the attention of airport manager Stephen Wilcox, that being complaints regarding low-flying planes over nearby homes.

That issue was raised by resident Chris Nashevich who explained how low-flying planes are an ongoing disturbance for him and his wife, detailing at the meeting how planes fly in barely above the 60-foot trees on his property, and how he counted as many as 48 planes in less than an hour one afternoon while sitting on his back porch.

“There has to be some sort of compassion here,” he said at the time. “This is something that has put us to the point where we’re living angry in our own homes.”

“Transport Canada has not contacted me. Anyone has the ability to file a concern with Transport Canada,” Wilcox tells The Oshawa Express.

With that noted, Wilcox says he will be reaching out the the federal entity personally, in order to alert them to the fact that residents have raised such concerns. He planned for a letter to be sent to the local inspector late last week or early this week.

However, according to TC guidelines, there are no height restrictions for planes coming in for landings.

“To go from up in the air to down on the ground you have to go in between,” Wilcox says. “So there is no height limit on the take-offs or the approaches, that whole piece, Transport (Canada) doesn’t say 100 feet over this house and 200 feet over that, it doesn’t work that way.”

Wilcox says he has no concerns that planes are not following the rules.

“There’s pretty strict processes that the aircraft follow and I have no concerns that they’re not following the processes at all.”

In particular, the concerns raised during the meeting pertained to the training circuit used by the flight schools that operate out of the Oshawa airport.

Wilcox says that the entire circuit is designed in order to keep planes close to the airport, or within “gliding distance.”

“The pilots appreciate safety as much as people on the ground and so that whole circuit pattern, that I took some time to explain at the meeting, is all about keeping the airplanes within gliding distance of the airport as much as it’s possible to do so.”

Traffic increases were also an issue for many residents, as projections see the number of flights coming and going from the Oshawa airport rising in the years to come.

“It surprises me a little bit that I’m asked, but I’m asked often so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me,” Wilcox says of the traffic concerns, adding that the airport has zero control over the limit of flights coming and going.

“It’s not unique to airports, it’s common to all modes of transportation,” he says. “Nobody can say to you, ‘sorry, you can’t take your boat on your lake today there’s already 10 boats out there.’ Nobody can say to you, ‘I’m sorry, you can’t drive on the 401 today, it’s already stop and go.”

In response to requests made during the town hall, the airport will be hosting an open house and tour at the end of this month which will allow residents more access to the runway and get a closer look at the airport’s operation. It’s currently scheduled to run on Jan. 28.