City wins ruling in Airpark case; Airpark appeals

The city has won the first round in a legal battle to ensure the Burlington Airpark complies with local regulations that don’t infringe on aeronautics matters governed by federal law.

Honourable Justice J. Murray ruled Nov. 13 that the city’s site alteration bylaw is valid and binding on the Airpark, the city is able to enforce its bylaw, and the city is entitled to its legal costs.

Justice Murray found that the city’s bylaw did “not impair the federal aeronautics power or create an operational conflict between the provisions of the by-laws and the federal aeronautics power.” In determining that the city’s bylaw did not intrude on the core federal power to regulate aeronautics, Justice Murray concluded that the city’s site alteration bylaw “was designed to regulate the use of landfill for the protection of the environment and for the safety, health and welfare of municipal residents” and “was not enacted for the purpose of regulating federal undertakings.”

Read the full decision here.

Mountains of landfill on Airport beside farms in rural Burlington.

Mountains of landfill on Airport beside farms in rural Burlington.

The Airpark has appealed the decision.

My Take: Credit goes to the residents who never gave up and kept pushing for action in the face of jurisdictional to-and-fro-ing. This is a significant victory, not just for Burlington but for municipalities across the country where airports have operated as unlicensed landfill sites and rejected compliance with local and provincial laws. The decision was clear that no one is above the law, and local or provincial laws apply so long as they don’t encroach on federal authority related to aeronautics. I’m optimistic we will win the appeal. The next step is to ensure compliance with our site alteration bylaw.

Your Take: Post your comments on the ruling, the appeal and next steps below.

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