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Area residents petition against new aerodrome in Georgina

'This doesn't make sense at all,' petitioner says of federal government's approval of the proposal for Georgina
The cover of a summary report on a proposed aerodrome in Georgina.

York Region residents are making another bid to stop a controversial aerodrome from being built in Georgina.

More than 800 people have signed a petition to the House of Commons in opposition of the aerodrome proposed by Sutton Airport Development Inc. The aerodrome, which would be located on Old Homestead Road, has garnered controversy and opposition from local government and residents concerned about the environmental impact and possibility of fill dumping on the site.

Pefferlaw resident Karen Wolfe, who started the petition, said the community remains concerned by the project, which has already received federal approvals.

“This doesn’t make sense at all,” she said. “We don’t believe that it’s anything that this community needs or wants.”

The project came forward in late 2021 for submitted comments, with a final summary report in May 2022. Transport Canada ultimately approved the project, which will be privately funded and includes two runways for small and medium aircraft.

But the project has garnered opposition from the Town of Georgina, Regional Municipality of York and Chippewas of Georgina Island, among others. 

Regional planning staff said the aerodrome is not located near an economic centre and could impact provincially significant wetlands in the area. 

“Based on our review of this proposal, regional planning staff is concerned with the lack of pre-consultation, absence of supporting studies and assessments, potential impacts to important and significant environmental features and the agricultural area and surrounding agricultural community without a demonstrated need or benefits to the community,” the region said in a letter. 

The petition and residents have also raised concerns about the site being used to dump construction fill and the possibility that the aerodrome may just be a cover for the land to be a dump site. 

“There are a number of red flags about this project that really make people here a little bit nervous,” Wolfe said, citing other municipalities that have faced disputes over airports left unfinished to become dumping sites. 

A request for comment from a company representative was not received prior to publication deadline.

But to this point, the proposal has made it through federal scrutiny. The final summary report states that proposed actions include environmental, engineering and planning-related studies to address objections raised during consultation. 

As far as fill is concerned, the report said the proponent will implement strict requirements on imported fills, with a soil management plan also getting put into place.

"The proposed new aerodrome will have the potential to connect businesses, travellers and aviation support services to the regional air transportation network and contribute to the local tax base and economy,” the report said.

But Wolfe said area residents have not been convinced and do not understand why the federal government has provided approvals.

The project is planned to have a two to three-year construction starting in the summer of 2022.

The petition calls on the government to reverse its decision and amend associated Transport Canada regulations regarding fill. With the backing of York-Simcoe MP Scot Davidson, Wolfe said she hopes the petition can get the transportation minister to reconsider.

“I don’t know how likely that is, but certainly, that’s what we want to see.” 

The petition is open for signatures until March 13. You can sign through the House of Commons petition website.