Legal action seeks to ground flights at new Parkland Airport

EDMONTON – The Capital Region’s newest airport has just opened for business. However, a statement of claim filed by the Enoch Cree Nation could keep planes at Parkland Airport on the ground.

“This is now a useable aerodrome,” said Aaron Soos, vice president of the Parkland Airport Development Corporation. “The runway is a 2,600 foot runway right now.”

After Edmonton’s City Centre airport closed, the Edmonton Flying Club moved its aircraft to Parkland’s facility on Tuesday, which is categorized as an uncontrolled aerodrome.

“Anyone’s welcome to come and land here, we just ask that they phone us first just to get a few procedures,” explained Soos.

“When pilots fly in – we use the frequency that all pilots are on in uncontrolled airspace, which is 126-7 – [they] just make radio calls to each other in the air and on the ground, explaining where you are and what you’re doing, and you can come here and land on this airport.”
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The Parkland Airport Development Corporation has applied for registration with Transport Canada.

The airport has been the focus of controversy, with many residents, even the county, fighting its development.

In September, the county issued a stop-work order, which was tossed out by a judge who noted that airports are federal jurisdiction.

“We have always welcomed people to come down, talk to us, come right to the airport, have a chat with us, find out what we are all about,” said Soos.

On Tuesday, a statement of claim was filed by the Enoch Cree Nation against several federal government departments and several people associated with Parkland Airport.

Soos just learned of the claim on Thursday.

“Actually, I didn’t know they filed a statement of claim,” he said. “No, we didn’t even know they had done that.”

Enoch Cree Nation alleges it has not been properly consulted.

“The Defendant, her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada, including all her Ministers, employees and agents, has a duty to consult with and accommodate the Plaintiffs to the full extent that the facts and circumstances of this case require,” reads the statement of claim.

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It is calling for activities at the aerodrome to stop until that consultation happens.

“The Defendants, Parkland Airport Development Corporation… be permanently enjoined and prohibited from devising any plans or pursuing any further activities respecting the development, construction, operation and maintenance of an aerodrome or airport site on any land and premises adjacent any of the Plaintiffs’ Reserve lands.”

In addition, Enoch Cree Nation is seeking financial damages.

“The Defendants… have and continue to inflict irreparable harm, and constitute an immediate, as well as an ongoing, danger or threat to the Plaintiffs’ Treaty rights, Aboriginal rights, traditional way of life and Aboriginal cultural values,” read the statement of claim.

Parkland Airport, Nov. 28, 2013.
Parkland Airport, Nov. 28, 2013. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
Parkland Airport, Nov. 28, 2013.
Parkland Airport, Nov. 28, 2013. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
Parkland Airport, Nov. 28, 2013.
Parkland Airport, Nov. 28, 2013. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

Earlier in November, representatives of Enoch Cree Nation voiced their opposition to the airport.

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“We were a little bit surprised when we saw the article saying that they were against the airport,” admitted Soos. “So, what we are doing right now is putting a package together for them to show the benefits for them as well.”

He hopes Parkland Airport will become a registered airport and will be able to expand.

“Next year we want to do the runway extension right out to the east into the next land, to make a longer runway, that’s our goal.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The process is still in its early stages, and no statements of defence have been filed.

Enoch Cree Nation indicated to Global News it is not ready to speak publicly on this situation yet.