Airport considers moving planned cargo terminal

A group of Mount Hope residents are hoping that their outcry is loud enough move airplanes as the city examines two other locations for the Hamilton airport’s new cargo terminal.

Residents complain of potential fumes, noise and lack of buffer

Gerry and Sue Schneider are among a new group of six homeowners who want the city to buy their land. They're asking in light of a new airport expansion they say will put jet planes too close to their homes. The city is examining two other locations for the new cargo terminal. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

A group of Mount Hope residents are hoping that their outcry is loud enough to move airplanes as the city examines two other locations for the Hamilton airport’s new cargo terminal.

Six Airport Road residents wrote letters and contacted the city earlier this year complaining about the planned $12-million cargo terminal behind their homes. They wanted the city to buy their properties, and earlier this year, the city voted to appraise them.

But that may not be necessary. The city and Tradeport, the company that operates the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, are looking at two other possible locations.

“We haven’t made a firm decision,” said Guy Paparella, director of the city’s industrial parks and airport development division. “We’re trying to be good neighbours. We’re seeing if other locations might be suitable.”

The city expects to decide on a final location in November, Paparella said. Two-thirds of the $12 million is from the provincial and federal governments, and the agreement dictates the terminal be completed by April 2015.

The terminal will expand the capacity of the Hamilton airport, which 2011 data shows is already the third busiest cargo airport in Canada in terms of volume.

It will be a 60,000-square-foot “cross dock” facility with truck docking stations and refrigeration for flowers, fresh produce and pharmaceutical products.

Construction will create about 50 jobs, and the facility itself will create as many as 400 direct and indirect spin-off jobs, the airport says.

That’s little comfort to the homeowners, who are hopeful the terminal goes somewhere else.

Homeowners waiting for news

“We haven’t heard anything official,” said George Fleming, one of the homeowners.

“There have been a couple of emails sent around. We’re just waiting for an official to say it’s going to be moved.”

Among the residents’ concerns:

  • The health impact of aircraft emissions, which they estimate will be as close as 500 feet from their homes.
  • Increased noise from planes and trucks, which could result in hearing loss and disrupted sleep, among other ailments.
  • The impact on the local water system.

Coun. Brenda Johnson sympathizes with the homeowners. She’d like to see the terminal moved.

“We’re the only airport in all of Canada that’s surrounded by a village,” the Ward 11 councillor said.

More buffer needed between airport and homes

She’d like to see more of a buffer between airplanes and the homeowners, and moving the facility “would be step one.”

“There are eight to 12 homes that back onto that property and they would be affected right from day one.”

There are many elements to investigate before deciding whether to move it, Paparella said. A big one is ease of access for trucks, and the ability of planes to taxi up to the buildings.

“We have to make sure we’re not doing it for the sake of moving it,” he said. “We want to make sure it’s still an efficient, cost-effective locale for the facility.”

Paparella hopes to report back to councillors in November about the possible relocation, and also the results of the appraisal of the nearby homes.

“We’re trying to bring it to a head as soon as possible so we can get on with constructing it,” he said. “We want to try and address all those issues before the end of the year.”

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