Parkland Airport meets with residents in search of working agreement

This was the first real sit down between the different groups since an information session in September of 2013 which brought out 200 people.

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Local landowners and the Parkland Airport have been feuding since before the first plane took off in 2013, now they may finally have found a way to at least move forward.

Representatives from the airport sat down recently with the members of the Opponents of the Parkland Airport (OPA), the RCMP, the Edmonton Flying Club, Parkland County Mayor Rod Shaigec, and Transport Canada.

This was the first real sit down between the different groups since an information session in September of 2013 which brought out 200 people.

For airport manager Robert Gilgen it was an encouraging meeting.

“We understand their concerns, we want to help, on the other hand we have a business to operate and we and we have a manual to follow,” said Gilgen. “We can’t just mandate different circuits, this is something we can work towards with individual pilots or with the flight instructors, but you cannot change the aviation rules, then it is a safety issue too.”


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The OPA has lodged repeated complaints with the airport, the RCMP and Transport Canada in the last few years citing planes flying too low and close to houses and dive bombing properties.

One resident has cataloged thousands of these instances, which the airport and Transport Canada say they are unable to verify. Meanwhile OPA representative Mandy Kenworthy says planes are flying close enough to her parent’s house to rattle the dishes in their china cabinets.

“We’re hoping there’s some resolution to (the dive bombing) but make no mistake, residents in the area still not ok about the fact there has been an airport shoved down their throat, so we’ll have to go back to that,” said Kenworthy.

Planes taking off from the airport are required to go up to 500 feet, make a turn, as per the airport’s certified circuit, and go up another 500 feet. Landing requires a similar path to be taken on approach. Gilgen said it is difficult to prove through a photograph or by watching from the ground the altitude of a plane, though some of the claims will be investigated further.

One major point that was made clear to the OPA is that once a plane leaves the runway it no longer falls under the purview of the airport, but that jurisdiction goes up the chain to Transport Canada. From there, proving the potential infraction becomes more difficult.

Members of the OPA have invited Transport Canada out to observe from their properties what they see on a regular basis.

“The meeting was very good for that because it started that dialogue,” said Kenworthy.

Property owners have also raised other concerns regarding a lack of communication over emergency response plans, environmental impacts, which includes water drainage, and health risks due to off gasses or exhaust from the different fuels to, night flights which disrupt the sleeping habits of residents.


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Kenworthy said one potential solution would be to have one of the local residents sit down with the students at the flying school to open dialogue about the things that directly impact them, and to be able to discuss these issues instead of allowing resentment to grow on both sides.

Gilgen said the airport will be working towards shining a light on many of these concerns to the local residents so that they can be better informed.

“On issues with the neighbours, we definitely want to be more active with that, it is always good to see cooperation,” he said.

The local residents have been protesting the existence of the airport since the site was selected as a replacement for Edmonton’ downtown city airport, to help fill its void. They have even submitted a petition to the federal government but are waiting to hear back from that.

Adding to the issue is the fact the airport has is currently in arrears on its taxes, owing about $700,000, including penalties, in property taxes to Parkland County on top of servicing its debt load from its initial $20 million investment. The airport has been operating under court protection is currently in discussion to set up a plan to get the taxes paid up. Gilgen says they should have something in place by December. There are plans to sell subdivided lots and develop hangars to help pay down debt, but those plans have been put on hold until a plan can be figured out.

“With this process hopefully being finished and having a good outcome, we could be looking at more development next year,” said Gilgen.

Kenworthy is not giving up hope of having the airport shuttered, but in the meantime says they finally have a little clarity on how to proceed when dealing with the airport and airing their grievances.

“There has to be something so that … these things are not creating a culture where the students and everybody who lands at the airport dislikes the residents and there for end up doing things that affect the residents’ way of life.” 

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