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Oakville residents say constant flight traffic is a big nuisance

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In the River Oaks neighbourhood of Oakville, just south of Dundas Street, you’ll find large homes with well-manicured lawns.

“It’s a great place to live, no doubt,” said Sharan Guger, who’s lived in the area for 20 years. “I love the people, the education, and the commute, as it’s GO train accessible.”

But one thing she’s grown tired of lately is the noise from airplanes she and others say are flying way too low.

“Over the past two years, we’ve noticed a significant change in the air traffic going right over our homes.”

While it’s not uncommon for anyone who lives in the GTA to see planes flying in the skies above, River Oaks residents say the aircrafts over their homes are too close for comfort.

“So low, you can actually see the cargo bays,” Guger said.

“I joke and say I can actually tickle their bellies,” added neighbour Enzo Zeppieri, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 14 years and says the past few months have been very disruptive.

He says the low-flying planes are loud, even in the overnight hours.

“There’s been a couple of times in the evening where I feel like it’s going to land in my bedroom.”

Over 15 flights seen in a few hours

Nearly 240 residents have signed a petition calling for changes. Petition organizers point to online flight data which they say proves Toronto Pearson International Airport has increased aircraft traffic over several neighbourhoods, not just in Oakville.

Speakers Corner was in the neighbourhood for four hours during which time we counted at least 20 flights crossing over these homes.

“We would understand if we lived close to Pearson, but we don’t,” Zeppieri said. “We’re about a 20-minute drive from the airport. I don’t get it. If they can simply change their path so they’re not above a suburban area, that’s preferable.”

Similar complaints in Oakville have been raised on and off since 2012, when NAVCAN, a private, not-for-profit agency that manages airspace, allowed more flights to cross over the municipality in an attempt to increase traffic flow.

But residents say they’ve noticed a drastic increase in flights over the past two years.

“Something changed, we don’t know what, but a lot of us are really upset by what’s happening,” Zeppieri said.

However, according to Pearson staff, nothing has changed.

“There have been no recent flight path changes that would impact Oakville,” said spokesperson Sean Davidson, who admitted nighttime traffic, which the airport tries to keep at a minimum, has increased due to ongoing maintenance on one of their runways forcing flights to change direction and fly over Oakville.

“This would have impacted the Oakville area,” Davidson said. “The work on this runway is scheduled to be completed this week and will be open again to operations during the nighttime hours.”

Pearson staff take noise complaints seriously

Davidson says he checked tracking data and planes are not flying any lower than they’re allowed to by law.

Neighbours remain skeptical.

“We’re living through this. These planes are low and loud,” Zeppieri said.

Davidson says the airport takes noise complaints seriously and staff have met with residents in Oakville to try to address concerns. The last meeting took place in September, but residents who attended say it did little to change things.

“Any discussion about noise complaints has to be weighed against other impacts, including the economic impact this airport generates. It’s key to remember that over 50,000 people work at Toronto Pearson, and we contribute $42 billion annually (or six per cent) to Ontario’s GDP,” Davidson said.

Oakville residents say they understand that point but are calling for some type of compromise.

“We understand that aircraft need to fly over certain neighbourhoods as it’s a way of life in the GTA,” the joint petition reads. “What we are against, however, are changes like this that put a far greater amount of noise overhead without properly consulting those that may be affected.”

Residents are now calling on elected officials and NAVCAN to make changes.

“I’m hopeful that perhaps there’ll be a switch in the flight patterns or the way that they’re routing them now,” Zeppieri said.

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