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Complaints about airport traffic continue to plague city

Oshawa Municipal Airport

For the second time, complaints around airport traffic have occupied discussion during a town hall meeting.

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The message from residents at a June 13 town hall meeting regarding the Oshawa airport was quite similar to one delivered back in December 2017.

At that December meeting, numerous city residents brought forth complaints regarding increased traffic and noise at the airport.

Chris Nashevich explained how low-flying planes are an ongoing disturbance for him and his wife, detailing how planes fly in above the 60-foot trees on his property, and how he has counted as many as 48 planes in less than an hour one afternoon while sitting on his back porch.

He restated these concerns at the latest meeting, calling the situation “pathetic”.

“Something has got to be done, and a lot sooner than you are planning,” he said.

Another resident says she cannot have conservations in her own backyard due to the noise.

“Sorry, that is unacceptable,” she stated.

This speaker pointed directly at the flight schools operating out of the airport as the reason for the problems.

“They do not work in residential areas.”

Airport manager Stephen Wilcox said flight schools only operate within the airport’s regular flying hours of 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and must adhere to restricted hours on Saturday and Sundays, especially holidays weekends.

He also noted that the airport isn’t allowing any more flight schools as Seneca College was interested in partnering with the airport, but were declined and the program went to Peterborough instead.

Wilcox pointed out that flight movements are under the authority of NAV Canada, not the airport itself.

“All movement is managed by NAV Canada. They create benchmarks for the planes to funnel too,” he added.

A letter was sent to Transport Canada with a list of concerns from residents in February but Wilcox said he has yet to receive a reply.

He encouraged anyone who believes a plane is operating outside of regulations to report it.

Several measures were suggested to mitigate some of the noise.

One idea was to install mini-weather stations, similar to ones near Pearson International Airport.

Wilcox explained they had considered this before, and it could be looked at again.

Another resident recommended the city “charge [flight schools] an arm and a leg” through user rates.

However, Wilcox said their fees are consistent with industry standards, and they can’t jack up prices to dissuade traffic.

“Transport Canada won’t allow us to do that,” he said.

Coming out the December meeting, it was clear to airport brass that communication with the community was lacking as well.

As previously reported by The Oshawa Express, following that meeting, city councillors responded with a lengthy, seven-part motion ahead of their first budget meeting on Dec. 11. The motion brought forward by Councillor Dan Carter noted that city staff would review communication plans and recommend that updated air quality, noise, and traffic management studies be undertaken as part of the Airport Business Plan review.

The motion also included a review of the communication plan for the Airport Community Liaison committee, as well as an updated review of airport-related fees and charges.

As part of the newly updated plans, the city has created a new webpage for the Oshawa Airport that will have links to all the necessary information and contact info, along with providing answers to frequently asked questions.

The update also includes an online news feed to share relevant information regarding the airport and an updated business plan section that highlights the accomplishments of the Airport Business Plan, and info related to the Southfield Master Plan currently in development.

In terms of the updated studies, as they relate to air quality, noise and traffic management, the new strategy states that all of these will be updated as part of the next airport business plan, which is slated to occur in 2020.

“Some of your feedback will feed into that business plan,” Wilcox told those in attendance at the June 13 meeting.

Feedback is set to come through avenues such as additional town halls, workshops and roundtables, web surveys, and expert panels.

“Our goal is to reach as many people as we can,” Wilcox says. “We’d like to reach out to you instead of asking you to come to us.”