Airport CEO gets earful from angry residents

Watch above: A long-standing dispute between Trudeau Airport officials and Dorval residents came to a head on Friday, as people lined up to tell the airport authorities CEO just what they thought of expansion plans. Tim Sargeant has more.

MONTREAL – One by one they lined up to let James Cherry know exactly how they feel.

“I’m extremely insulted by your remark that we’re annoyed by you taking over the golf course land,” said one West Island resident.

“Thank you, you know, for destroying our quality of life,” another said.

The West Island residents are furious over the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport expansion plans, which include reclaiming green space in Dorval. The airport has been leasing land to the city of Dorval, which has used it for a nine-hole golf course. The golf course, with its expansive green space, has acted as a buffer between the sprawling residential neighbourhood and the largest airport in Quebec.

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Cherry, the CEO of  Aéroports de Montréal, claims the space is needed to build a new distribution centre, make room for an eventual light rail transit system and open a government mandated security check point to inspect vehicles.

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“To be able to search vehicles that are coming in from the west end of the airport, I can’t put the search point on Côte-de-Liesse,” said Cherry.

Cherry is offering to leave a 25-metre green space buffer zone on the golf course, build a sound barrier and keep some of the trees lining Thorncrest Avenue. But the CEO insists he has a responsibility to run an international airport where 27,000 people work. It is used by 15 million passengers annually.

“Our requirements have to look in a balanced way at all of those. Not just those of the community immediately adjacent to the airport,” he said at the airport’s annual public meeting.

Residents aren’t buying it, though. They claim the airport shouldn’t always be looking west to expand.

“They don’t care about the quality of life for people around the airport. They do care about making money. And that’s what we’re very concerned about,” David Maloney, a Dorval resident, told Global News.

“I feel really let down. I feel my community is let down and it’s going to change the way we live,” Karen Ekdahl, another Dorval resident said.

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Many residents worry not only about the noise but also a drop in their property values. They’re promising to take their battle to Ottawa and demand the Transport Minister intervene.

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