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Councillors cite “imbalance” between residents, airport operations

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Following a large public outcry at a recent town hall, city officials are moving to improve the relationship between residents and the Oshawa Executive Airport.

The meeting, held late last month, saw approximately 175 people attend. Many were angry residents who are reportedly fed up with noise and low flying planes circulating from the airport.

At the latest development services committee meeting, Mayor Dan Carter said the message from the town hall was clear to him.

“A number of Oshawa residents clearly and passionately indicated the number of aircraft, noise and safety concerns [are creating problems],” Carter said. “They were clear, concise, compassionate and spirited in everything they did.”

Carter said the majority of these concerns are attached to flight schools that operate out of the airport.

The mayor said there needs to be a better balance between business at the facility and quality of life and privacy of residents.

The committee passed a motion brought forth by Carter directing development services staff to review the concerns raised during the meeting, and to discuss them with airport officials, NAV Canada and Transport Canada.

The airport recently completed noise and air quality studies and presented the results at the September town hall.

However, Carter’s motion directs staff to expand monitoring of noise and air quality concerns to include residential neighbourhoods in the area, not just the airport lands.

Lastly, staff will host several smaller-scale workshops to discuss concerns with the public before the airport completes its 2020-2024 business plan.

Ward 2 city and regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri commended Carter’s motion.

Marimpietri also stressed the need for the city to review its operating agreement with the airport, which was signed in 1997.

He noted the document was “put together in good faith with consideration of former industries that used to be very operational there at a high level… things have changed.”

Marimpietri said the city must make it clear to the federal government there are ongoing concerns.

“We are the ones operating the airport, we’re the ones with residents being impacted, and we’re the ones with businesses on the ground,” he said.

Marimpietri also stated the city should seriously consider limiting the number of flight schools.

However, commissioner of development services Warren Munro said even if there was only one flight school, all the pilots would join that school, and the number of aircraft would likely stay the same.

“If there’s 160 pilots spread over eight schools or one school, you still have 160 pilots,” Munro said.

Ward 5 city and regional councillor Brian Nicholson said he was in support of consulting with the public, but wants airport officials and businesses to have a voice at the table as well.

“It seems like we are only interested in one side of the situation,” he said. “Are we going to foster communication, or are we going to hinder communication.”