By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
A new webpage, online feedback form, and continued annual town hall meetings are all part of an improved communication plan for the Oshawa Executive Airport and its community liaison committee.
The plan, presented to councillors during the Development Services committee meeting on March 26, includes a number of measures that attempt to respond to public comments made during a town hall meeting in December.
That meet saw approximately 150 residents turn out, many of them speaking up about a number of concerns, including increasing traffic at the city’s aviation hub, and excessive noise, however the most prominent issues appeared to be a frustration with a lack of openness regarding planning and future considerations at the airport.
Following that meeting, 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 will reviewing communication plans and recommending 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 new 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 for the Airport, along with providing answers to frequently asked questions. The webpage is set to go live after council’s final approval of the updated plans in their regular meeting on April 9.
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.
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.
As well, the city has noted that any response they receive from Transport Canada in regards to concerns raised, will be shared on the new webpage.
One concern in particular that was raised during the town hall meeting drew the concern of Stephen Wilcox, the airport manager, who sent a letter to the federal authority relating to low-flying planes over homes close to the airport.
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.
A letter was sent to Transport Canada about the issue in February.
“I think we’ve addressed the concerns related to communication with the communication strategy,” says Wilcox, noting that this is only a first step. “The webpage is only one of the pieces…it is absolutely a living document so to speak.”