October 24, 2013 7:53 pm
Updated: October 24, 2013 10:15 pm

Judge sides with developer; work on Parkland County airport will continue

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EDMONTON – Development of an airport in Parkland County will continue, after an Edmonton judge decided the developer is well within its rights to carry on with the project.

The Parkland Airport Development Corp. (PADC) started work on the airport in September. The developer hoped it would serve as an alternative to the Villeneuve airport for companies forced to leave Edmonton’s City Centre Airport.

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Area residents complained to the County, saying they weren’t consulted about the project. They’re also worried about their safety and quality of life.

“We’re right in the flight path of two airports- Villeneuve and the Edmonton International. There’s big planes flying around there all the time and yet, they want to build another one there,” said Allan Charlet, who lives next to the airport land, which is located on the east side of RR 270 Sandhills Road, about two kilometres north of the Highway 627 Garden Valley Road.

“The agriculture is going to be changed, the bird migration is going to be ruined,” Allan’s wife, Florence, explained.

“I was born and raised there and the thought of leaving is just almost too much. And yet, I don’t think we could stand living underneath that kind of situation,” she said. “Our peace and quiet is just gone.”

“It’s an established agricultural area,” explained Paul Hanlan, Manager of Planning & Development with Parkland County. “And that’s been our primary concern, is just who’s providing the necessary oversight to ensure that any potential environmental issues aren’t occurring. And right now, nobody is.”

As a result, the County issued a stop work order against the PADC because it didn’t have a development permit.

However, on Thursday afternoon a judge ruled in favour of the PADC, citing airports fall under federal jurisdiction and there was no requirement for the PADC to obtain a development permit from Parkland County.

“It’s the correct decision. He (the judge) held that it’s a matter of constitutional law. The County of Parkland had no jurisdiction to do anything that would stop the construction and operation of this airport,” said Fred Laux, PADC’s lawyer.

Parkland County issued a statement saying “this ruling solidifies our position that revisions need to be made to Federal Aeronautics Act and the Canadian Aviation Regulations to ensure the interests of the public are served and protected.”

Residents opposed to the project aren’t backing down, though, they say they’ve already hired their own lawyer.

Work on the airport will now continue. The developer hopes the runway will be finished by this winter.

With files from Ross Neitz, Global News.

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