SCUGOG: While there’s still much work to be done on the proposal, Scugog Township staff are preparing for the doubling of truck traffic heading into the Greenbank Airport – from 200 to 400 loads per day - as work continues on the Hwy. 47 aviation facility’s ongoing expansion.
This week, councillors approved the extension of the facility’s interim site alteration permit until either May 1, 2014, or an approval of the increase in truck traffic - proposed by the airport’s owners - by the Ministry of Transportation, at which point the municipal permit would need to be rewritten. A third work permit from the Region of Durham will last until March 2016, anticipating possible changes in the provincial permit, said Scugog’s Public Works Director Ian Roger.
According to a staff report, the increased operations are pending a number of conditions mandated at the provincial level, including improved truck washing facilities to control mud and soil on the roadway, as well as a new entranceway to the facility, literally paving the way for more trucks dumping soil at the property. Although the current MTO permit is set to expire on Oct. 14, Mr. Roger told councillors that due to the time of year and the amount of work required to meet those conditions, it’s likely that the current limit of 200 trucks per day will remain in place well into the next year. Scugog staff and airport officials are set to meet with the Ministry on Oct. 16 to discuss the proposal. In response to a council inquiry, Mr. Roger acknowledged that the MTO could even potentially suspend the operation until those matters were resolved.
"There’s still a lot of technical work to resolve before going to 400 trucks," said Mr. Roger. "This will likely not be resolved until spring. We’ll likely continue with 200 trucks a day for some time."
The discussion raised a few concerns around the council table, particularly regarding the disconnect between three levels of government involved in the same project.
Ward 1 Councillor Larry Corrigan said that the delay in an improved entranceway at the facility has drawn the ire of some residents living in the area.
"It’s frustrating from my point of view," said the councillor, "with the concerns of citizens, knowing there’s a solution and it just ain’t happening."
The councillor, who represents the area of Scugog in which the airport is located, also took exception to recent comments made by Uxbridge Township councillors concerning the handling of the airport permit by Scugog.
"When you feel threatened, you posture," said Councillor Corrigan. "They need good information and to understand the amount of work that has gone into this project that has got us where we are today, dealing with a project in which there is no provincial or federal oversight. The only oversight we can enter into is called a site alteration permit. We could have taken a side against this project, and could have done some pheasant posturing, and said ‘we’ll take you to court.’ But on the advice of our best legal people we were told we can’t win. We took the road less traveled and said let’s negotiate in a win-win context - not only for the project but for the township, and address those concerns of the public."
The project, which came to light in early 2012 and was the subject of numerous public meetings and concerns over a major commercial fill operation, was originally supposed to see 2.5 million cubic metres of soil dumped over two to three years to facilitate the extension of a runway.