Oshawa airport action plan focused on limiting flight school traffic

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From Oshawa This Week – link to source story

By Reka Szekely, Reporter | Wed., June 16, 2021

An Oshawa-based flight school plane comes in for a landing at the Oshawa Executive Airport.

An Oshawa-based flight school plane comes in for a landing at the Oshawa Executive Airport.

An Oshawa airport action plan is focused on limiting flight school traffic and creating a better balance between airport activity and the ability of nearby residents to enjoy their homes.

The business plan for the city-owned Oshawa Executive Airport expired at the end of 2019. The city has held numerous consultations in order to create a new business plan, however, an ongoing lawsuit with an airport-based flight school and a request for noise abatement to the federal government means it’s impossible to predict long-term traffic at the airport and, as a result, a temporary action plan running through 2022 was created.

The action plan prioritizes restricting flight school traffic, which has drawn noise complaints from both Oshawa and Whitby residents about noisy planes flying circuits over area homes.

Oshawa resident Doug Thomson is a longtime advocate on the issue of airport noise and is a citizen representative on the city’s airport business plan advisory committee.

“Overall I think it’s a constructive report, it covers the items the neighbourhood is concerned about and has expressed at the different workshops they’ve held and the town hall meetings and so on,” he said.

Thomson said he supports focusing on executive and corporate traffic at the airport and reducing flight school traffic.

He said flight schools have not adhered to limits advanced by the city such as a moratorium on Sunday or holiday weekend flights.

“We’re inundated with this flight activity any hour of the day or night; it goes on well after the curfew at night and starts very early in the morning,” he said. “It’s constant. It can be 15 to 20 seconds between and they can have 15 in the air, in the circuit at any time.”

The city will also continue pursuing the eviction of one of the flight schools, Canadian Flight Academy.

According to a city report, the flight school’s lease expired at the end of 2019 and the city proposed a one-year extension with additional conditions, including on hours of operation.

The flight school rejected the new conditions and the city instructed the business to vacate its premises on the airport lands. Canadian Flight Academy then attempted to take the city to arbitration over the issue and ultimately took the city to court to block an eviction. The lease issue remains before the courts.

The city will look at all avenues to restrict the establishment of new flight schools at the airport including appealing to Transport Canada and investigating zoning amendments to prevent new flight schools, according to the action plan.

“We must continue to advocate at all levels of government to be able to find a balance for our airport,” said Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter. “The impact our airport has had on our communities and our neighbouring communities is unacceptable. I will not stop until we have this resolved.”

But not everyone supports reducing activity at the airport.

Winston Stairs said he lives on the Oshawa airport flight path and doesn’t mind planes flying over his home.

Now inactive, he’s a pilot who learned to fly at the airport through the now-defunct Oshawa Flying Club.

“I wouldn’t have my pilot’s license if they didn’t exist when I was starting to fly,” he says, adding that flight training is important given the looming pilot shortage.

Stairs said he finds the noise complaints from residents to be without merit.

“They knew, or should have known, before they even signed the homeowner purchase agreement that there was an airport located beside or in close proximity to their house,” said Stairs, who wrote a letter to that effect to his local MP, Colin Carrie.

Thomson said he’s heard the comments that airport-area residents should have known what they were getting into.

However, he said flight school traffic noise has dramatically increased in recent years. He compared it to a longtime neighbour buying a Harley Davidson with no muffler and running it regularly. Though the neighbour may have been there a while, the noise issue is an escalation.

“We can be and have been and will be continuously classed as NIMBYs, but we’re not saying move the airport,” said Thomson, referring to the ‘not-in-my-backyard’ acronym.

Story behind the story: We looked at the new action plan for the Oshawa Executive Airport and why residents have advocated for a reduction in flight school traffic.