Fed up with deafening noise, noxious fumes and rogue skydivers landing on their properties, residents of Georgina, on the southern shore of Lake Simcoe, are petitioning their town council to take action against the Parachute School of Toronto.
Some 200 irate Georginians have signed the petition and presented it to local politicians. A town council report on the matter is expected next week.
“If they wreck anything, say they land in your azaleas and destroy them, that’s criminal trespass,” says resident Paul Nicholls, who is spearheading the protest.
The school has been operating since 1974, though it used to run out of Arthur, Ont. It relocated to Georgina in 2002 to be closer to Toronto customers. It runs from May to October, 9 a.m. to sunset, five days a week, during which about 1,000 flights take place.
Mary Kay lives about 60 metres from the airport. The noise had been tolerable, she says, but things changed in the summer of 2010 when a new, louder plane came into use. Now the noise and fumes are unbearable, she says.
“It is hard on the blood pressure when you get all wound up about something like this,” says Kay, 76.
Adam Mabee, president of the parachute school, says he has yet to talk with the petitioners.
Of the 400 jumps conducted weekly, he says just a couple of skydivers miss their target, the airport.
“Statistically, that’s pretty low,” he says. The worst damage happened two years ago to an awning, he says, and he paid for repairs.
In fact, he says, people whose property they land on are pretty friendly about it. “On a Sunday afternoon they’ll be sitting out on a back porch sipping a drink and enjoying the show.”
As for the offending aircraft, Mabee says it’s a “big ugly plane great for jumping out of.” He says he doesn’t notice it being louder than others.
Still, as far as Kay is concerned, the airport was never meant to house such a large operation. “It’s just a roar,” she says. “You just grin and bear it and close the windows.”