Fill and Aerodromes


Aerodrome sign 650


Recent Developments

On December 16, 2014, Bill c-43, which contains provisions for amendments to the Aeronautics Act, received Royal Assent and is now LAW.

The implications regarding fill and aerodromes may now be quite significant, giving powers to the Federal Transport Minister to make an order prohibiting the development or expansion of aerodromes if it is not in the “public interest”. The accompanying regulations will follow, however this is a very hopeful first step in addressing the very serious issues around fill dumps at aerodromes.

For the amendments to the  Aeronautics Act please Click Here.

November 2014 LCCW Letter of Support to the Federal Government regarding Bill C-43 – This Bill can close the loophole regarding airfields being used as soil dumps. Click Here for a summary of the proposed changes to the Aeronautics Act.


Jurisdiction over Aerodromes

The law is quite clear that an aerodrome falls under federal jurisdiction and therefore a province (or municipality) can’t prohibit the establishment of an aerodrome in a rural area.  The reality that a private aerodrome can be located anywhere is problematic for a number of reasons. Various significant provincial policies such as the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan can be undermined by allowing the placement of private aerodromes on sensitive lands in these areas, particularly if it is then declared that vast quantities of fill will be required to renovate or construct the aerodrome.

Aerodrome operators have argued that they are under federal regulation and thus exempt from municipal oversight.  In terms of the MOE, if this happens in source water protection areas, and if more municipalities go the route of  New Tecumseth and back away from regulating large fill operations at aerodromes due to litigious threats, (Lawyer’s letter to New Tecumseth on aerodrome exemption) there is the risk of improperly regulated fill activities causing an adverse effect on groundwater supplies via the importation of contaminated fill (LCCW letter to MOE – concerns re: fill activities at Tottenham Airfield).

Contaminated fill has been imported into various fill sites in Durham Region both in the presence and absence of regulatory oversight.(MOE Order,  Phase II Environmental Site Assessment and Work Plan for the Earthworx Site in Scugog), (MOE report Re: Sample Results from Taylor’s Road Fill Site in City of Kawartha Lakes), (“Tainted soil lands on Pickering farm” – John Lorinc – Globe and Mail 2012-02-19) , (MOE regarding Morgans Rd, Clarington site – Officer’s Orders and Director’s Orders) Therefore, the chances of contaminated fill being imported into a site with absolutely no legislative oversight may be significant.

Once contaminated fill is discovered above sensitive groundwater areas or in source water protection areas, the MOE will have to become involved. With the current trend in requiring large amounts of fill for airfield renovations such as:

the fear is that we will continue to see an increase in fill operations for aerodromes and the MOE will have to continue to spend resources to come in after the fact to ensure fill quality protocols are in place.  This is not a sustainable approach.

Action Required:

1.    Planning authorities along with the MOE and other relevant ministries such as the MMAH and the MNR, need to appeal to the Federal government so that provincial and municipal environmental plans are not undermined and sensitive groundwater resources are not threatened by private aerodrome construction. King Township passed a motion in November 2012 which could be used as a template in this regard (King Township Motion regarding Municipalities and the Aeronautics Act).

It is important to note the the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), an organization that liaises between the Federal government and Municipalities, adopted King’s Motion in March 2013 (FCM Resolution re: King Township’s Motion).

As well, the issue regarding construction of private aerodromes regardless of municipal objection has also been tabled at FCM Conferences (2012 FCM Conference – Please See Pages 12-14).

2.    Municipalities must be given legal opinions (Lawyer’s opinion – Fill-sites at Airports) to support their right to regulate the quality of soil being brought into aerodromes and counter the claims of airport operators that they are exempt from municipal by-laws.


In the News

June 11, 2014 Burlington Executive Airport owner loses appeal to dump dirt on property

January 12, 2014 – Burlington Gazette -When you know what the rules are, it is a lot easier to play the game. Air Park situation takes on a different look.

December 18, 2013 – Advisory Circular from Transport Canada re Jurisdiction over Aerodromes

November 14, 2013 Milton Superior Court ruled the City of Burlington’s site alteration bylaw applies to the Burlington Airpark – Media Release City of Burlington

Fill and Aerodromes News Articles – A Sampling