President’s Corner – February 2016

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Aerodromes – How Fragile They Are

It’s a never-ending story, it just keeps repeating itself. Protecting our freedom to fly also means protecting our landing strips, protecting our aerodromes.  It is part of our role, yours and mine, to keep these aerodromes alive and well.

As I wrote last November, I strongly suggest that whenever an event is held at your airport, such as COPA For Kids, a fly-in or some other public activity, an invitation is extended to your local Chamber of Commerce people, the elected officials, and the media to witness the benefits of a local airport.

If you can have a say in choosing your airport manger, do get involved and choose someone that has some aviation experience, not just a financial background. Managing an airport takes a broad, medium to long term aviation-minded vision: if someone is solely interested in turning a profit for the airport year-in, year-out, let them go work for a bank.

An aerodrome is a regional development tool, a revenue generating economic engine for an area, a link from your community to the rest of the world. For those who have never heard it before, “One kilometre of highway takes you one kilometre, but one kilometre of runway takes you anywhere!

Some may do simple math by looking at direct operating costs of an aerodrome and dividing this over the number of taxpayers. Once you start hearing this type of thinking, start worrying about your aerodrome and get to work. Why not help these people see it differently, see the bigger picture?

Let them know how much more revenue is coming in than what is perceived. Get an economic impact assessment study done and if you need help, there are well known businesses that do just that.

There is also a whole section on our website, “Flying in Canada” – “GA Airports – Economic impact” which can also help you.  You will find economic impacts for different airports that you may find similar to yours.  You will also see our brochure: “Your Community Airport – An Aviation Gateway” that you can download, forward or print.

Yarmouth (NS)

Are there forward-looking leaders out there? Yes. Let’s congratulate the folks in Yarmouth, where we will also hold our next AGM! This was the headline on the Vanguard January 6 website: “Municipal units eye Yarmouth airport infrastructure improvements as a top regional capital priority” http://tinyurl.com/j9dl4u5. The article written by Tina Comeau says “…increase utilization of the airport facility is seen as a way to spur economic growth and potentially attract new business and industry. The airport infrastructure is seen as an asset to the region.”

Neuville (QC)

Quick recap of Neuville (CNV9) airport situation: the City of Neuville brought CNV9 to court for not having asked for a permit to move more than 15 cubic metres of soil for “aeronautics” purposes, a by-law they passed specifically for that.  In December 2014, the municipal judge sided with CNV9.  The city appealed, after which CNV9 asked for some support with our Freedom to Fly Fund.  Well, the appeal was heard in Superior Court and the January 7 judgement came out  in favour of CNV9!  This is the fourth time CNV9 goes to court, the fourth time they win, with the Supreme Court COPA judgements ([2010] 2 S.C.R. 536 and S.C.R. 453) often being cited.  These wins are building jurisprudence for the rest of the nation.  Hats-off to the developers for their courage and tenacity!

Pickering (ON)

With Cheryl Marek, one of our Southern Ontario directors, I had the opportunity to meet with the special consultant to the government (Dr. Gary Polonsky), to present our view as to why there should be an airport in Pickering.

For the last 50 years, the land, owned by Transport Canada, has been reserved and waiting for the airport. Now with Buttonville airport shutting down, it should be a no-brainer to set this new one up.  But no, the fate of an airport at Pickering is still precarious.  Because a loud, vocal minority tells their elected officials they don’t want it.

How about we tell them we want the airport and all it brings? Please see our “Take Action” page on our website for a sample letter and to get the coordinates of your member of parliament.

Grand Cache (AB)

We also lost one. Grand Cache (CEQ5) airport was shut down January first by the municipality.  I was informed of the situation by a non-member who turned to COPA for help after the fact, when it was already too late to help or do something.  We can read the history of its demise on the town’s website (grandcache.ca). No comment.

Your Aerodrome (Ca)

It would be nice to hear stories about how your airport is thriving, how the leaders are seeing it and what they are doing. This year, COPA will put more effort into helping you protect and showcase your aerodrome.  Share your good news by writing to us at copa@copanational.org and tell us about Your Aerodrome (Ca).

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week – March 7 – 13

Coming up during the week of March 7, 2016, there is a worldwide initiative going on. For every one of these women that will get a free or paid introductory flight, COPA will also provide them with an e-membership, entitling them to receive e-flight and access to the members-only section of the website.  Those who also want to sign up as COPA members, will be eligible for our membership drive prize for 2016, a beautiful women’s Breitling COLT watch.

On a final note

As a national association, COPA has finally officialised its French name with Industry Canada: l’Association canadienne des propriétaires et pilotes d’aéronefs.   Either the English or French name can be used officially.