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Audit leads to oversight at airport

Noise complaints at Oshawa Airport

Oshawa Municipal AirportBy Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

An internal audit of the Oshawa Executive Airport has resulted in a recommendation for the city to oversee the noise complaint process.

The other four recommendations from KPMG include finding a way to clarify the Total Aviation and Airport Solutions (TAAS) Agreement, a review of monthly revenue supporting documentation, the need for a procurement process over the use of independent contractors and use of city staff, and a formalization of the roles and responsibilities for some capital projects.

However, the issue that made its way to council was the recommendation regarding the noise complaint process.

Ward 2 City Councillor Jane Hurst acknowledged there’s been a change in the skies over Oshawa since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the last little while, the skies have been fairly quiet, and it has not gone unnoticed by our residents,” she said.

She noted there’s a perception among Oshawa residents that city staff aren’t doing enough to help reduce noise from the Oshawa Executive Airport.

“I just want to highlight that we are doing something about it, and hopefully we can all live collaboratively together… and we can find a way of achieving balance,” she said.

Hurst’s regional counterpart, Tito-Dante Marimpietri, tells The Oshawa Express he is doing everything he can for residents around the airport.

“I am doing everything I can with the support of the mayor, the commissioner, CAO, and my ward colleague to restore balance at the Oshawa Airport,” he says.

He says the issues surround the health of local residents, their overall well being, and the environment.

While it’s been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Marimpietri believes the new Airport Business Plan will bring about change.

“COVID-19 has delayed the new business plan which will undoubtedly call for a safer, quieter, more balanced operation for the local community’s benefit,” he says.

However, the report from KPMG notes there is currently “limited oversight by the city over the noise complaints process.”

The report points out all noise complaints are currently directed to the service operator, and there isn’t a formalized requirement for the service operator to report on actions it has taken to follow-up on any complaints.

KPMG observed there is no target turnaround time to respond to resident complaints, and the noise complaints tracker doesn’t show when the complaint was responded to, or who responded.

“There is a risk that a complaint can be missed and not responded to in a timely manner or at all,” reads the report. “Additionally, supporting documentation of responses are only retained physically in a binder, and therefore can easily be missed.”

Finally, KPMG took note of the fact the city has little oversight when it comes to the monitoring of complaints, and the responses provided.

“There is no formal requirement by the service operator to report on actions taken,” reads the report.

To respond to this issue, KPMG recommends Service Oshawa review and be cc’ed on all responses to community complaints.

The report also recommends the city require all noise complaints be issued and responded to through a central portal on the city’s website.

KPMG also recommends an improvement to the service’s “complaints tracker.” The improved tracker would have a field to enter when the complaint was received, and when it was responded to.

The new field would also have a space for when the complaint was resolved, and the name of the member of the team who responded to it.

The report also calls for an update to the standard operating procedures for the service operator.

This would include an update to the standard response time for complaints.

“Response times should be consistent with response times for other types of complaints the city receives,” the report says.

Finally, the report recommends the city adopt a policy to document voice conversations, as well as email communications.

In response to the recommendations, Oshawa’s Commissioner of Development Services Warren Munro agreed to the recommendations made by KPMG.