Flight school, City, reach $5.2 million settlement on long-running Oshawa Airport noise lawsuit

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Published June 11, 2024 at 11:02 am

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A long-running and oft-delayed lawsuit between the City of Oshawa and the Canadian Flight Academy (CFA) has been settled, with the City agreeing to pay as much as $5.2 million and the flight school pledging to stop all flight training at the Oshawa Executive Airport by December 2025.

The terms of the resolution are confidential though the flight school’s demand for $5.2 million for its leasehold “improvements” and to vacate the property by the spring of 2026 have been made public.

Oshawa Councillor Rosemary McConkey reported Tuesday the settlement has been signed.

“The City and CFA have agreed to a mutual resolution of their ongoing litigation. CFA has agreed to cease all in-air flight training activities at the Oshawa Executive Airport by Dec 31, 2025. CFA has agreed to depart the Airport by Mar 31, 2026.”

The academy has also agreed to restrict its in-air flight training departures at the airport to no earlier than 8 a.m. on all days and no later than 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays, McConkey added.

The City has been embroiled in litigation with the flight school for several years, with the trial date postponed several times.

Oshawa has long pledged to “defend the City’s interest” in the lawsuit involving the CFA, which recently spent $7 million in upgrades to its facility and is one of two flight training schools at the airport.

The flight school also recently purchased of a Tecman G1000 twin-engine trainer which is not only quieter – noise levels are reduced more than 30 per cent – but also cleaner, in the hopes of easing public complaints.

The aircraft, which cost about $700,000 US (nearly $1 million CDN), runs on unleaded fuel, which should reduce emissions by 60 per cent.

In 1997, the City of Oshawa signed a 50-year Operating and Options Agreement with the federal government to operate the airport until 2047 (the facility could be closed as early as 2033 if a new airport is developed in Pickering) and has emphatically declared that the commitment to keep the airport open beyond its current operational agreement timeframe date NOT be extended.

The issue is noise and the Oshawa Executive Airport – which has been around for more than 70 years – has more than its fair share of detractors, with complaints rising from about 50 per year in the early part of this century to more than 300 during the height of the pandemic.

Most of the complaints stem from training flights: flights have certainly increased during that time but not at the same rate, leading some to wonder if airport neighbours did their due diligence before buying a home near active runways.

Jeff Davis has been watching and commenting on council activities for years and he is on record putting the onus on both the city, for approving so many homes near the airport, and on homeowners who knowingly purchased homes near an active runway.

But he wonders about the reported $5.2 million settlement (plus re-location fees) that is coming from tax coffers and how the City is going to replace the lost revenue when the flight academy closes shop.

“Why are we forcing a business out of business? And how much are we going to lose in rentals, landing fees – the daily revenue that is supporting this airport?”

The airport opened in 1941 as a flight training school for Second World War pilots and was taken over by the City in 1947, many years before any subdivisions were built in the vicinity.

As part of the settlement both parties in the lawsuit will be responsible for their own legal fees. Indurham reached out to the City for comment but under the settlement agreement, “neither party is at liberty to comment any further on the resolution.”

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