Is Stouffville’s town council funding an airport misinformation war ?

The town of Whitchurch-Stouffville made the national news recently when a bizarre “mind-map” was found on the mayor’s office washroom wall. Another strange event didn’t make the news but left some residents equally annoyed and wondering if there is something in the water at city hall. When the official town sponsored monthly paper called “On the Road” recently arrived, instead of the usual locally focused community snippets, it was dominated by the first part of a lengthy two-part series on the history of the Pickering airport lands. Copies of the towns tax payer funded “on the road magazine” was printed and mailed with the airport piece in two parts. The first 10 pages arrived in the January 2018 edition and the rest in part two in the February edition , at no small expense to local home owners. Why? And why now?

A local agriculture lobby group, land over landings, is featured on the cover of “On the Road”, but their financial interests and potential conflict of interests with the town is never disclosed. The reader is given the impression that they are volunteers, but are they fighting for the good of the community or are they a group of tenant farmers co-opting the image of a 1970s citizens group for personal profit?

 A comparison to the Pickering airport Wiki entry and similar sources shows that this rewriting of history is far from balanced. Some “facts” in the story are simply wrong, such as the minimum distance between runways able to do simultaneous operations ( its 1036 meters, more than double the 1500 ft quoted). Other facts and figures are, at best, massaged. With selective quotes and cherry picked facts, the writing at times resembles a legal argument, rather than a historical review. What it does resemble is the storyline promoted by a local agriculture lobby group called “land over landings”. For years this group, founded in 2005, has claimed to be related to and has been co-opting the halo of the original 1970s anti Pickering airport citizens movements. A discussion of Land over Landings apparent financial interests and conflict of interests can be found here.

The bigger question is what is the point of the town publishing a one sided inaccurate view of these events? Is the intent to rewrite history in support of an modern argument against the airport or do the writers not realize their bias?

Does the town council and its mayor know that “On the Road”, a paper they sponsor, is taking a position opposing development of the Federal Pickering airport lands? Does the Council support this position? Or has an unknown interloper, perhaps one of the tenants renting airport land on the cheap, hijacked the town-funded community paper?

Unlike the distorted map published in “ On The Road”, the flight paths in the approved zoning of Pickering airport ( pictured above) do not overfly the town of Stouffville.
The distorted graphic from part two of the “On The Road” falsely projects the flight path of one of the runways crossing Stouffville road at hwy 48, three km off its real crossing point at Kennedy Rd . The main distortion is circled in red.

The map included in part two is a good clue as to what is really going on. It appears to be a merger of a modern landscape with an modified old (2004) Pickering airport layout. But have a look at the distorted western approach surface to the northern east-west runway. It’s not symmetrical to the runway’s centreline, and it has been shifted so it goes over part of Whitchurch-Stouffville. One assumes that local citizens are expected to read and believe that their town will soon be under the flight paths of 747s zipping by over their houses.

Rewriting history to support NIMBYism ( not in my backyard) or other modern agendas is hardly new. Our media is awash with historical misinformation being used to support every political view under the sun.  Is this yet another case of a negationist historian rewriting history to construct arguments for a political position ? If so, shame on the authors and the town that sponsors them, for utilizing this evasive and corrupting approach to an important discussion.

A good example of how this discussion should be taking place can be found in the nearby town of Pickering. The Pickering town council has earmarked money to promote an open discussion on economic development, including supporting the development of a new airport.  If Whitchurch-Stouffvilles goal is to oppose the Town of Pickering’s push for a new airport, why not do so in the same up front straightforward manner?

In the meantime, if the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville wants to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars printing something , perhaps it should start with the threat risk assessment report of its mayor in which he scored an 8 out of 10.

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