by Jim Bell, COPA Director for Manitoba

COPA members, representatives of the Manitoba Aviation Council, St. Andrews airport (CYAV) and local aviation companies fended off a potential threat to aviation safety in southern Manitoba on Tuesday, March 10.

Bell MTS, as represented by Evolve Surface Strategies, applied to the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews to install a 350-foot-high cell tower in a farmer’s field near Oak Hammock Marsh. The site chosen was only three-quarters of a mile from the end of Runway 18 at Oak Hammock Air Park, a popular grass airfield, and underneath an instrument approach for St. Andrews airport (Manitoba’s second busiest) and a major pilot training airport.

Over thirty people filled the small council chamber, and several had to stand in the hallway, listening to the impassioned presentations of the hazard the tower represented to both VFR and IFR pilots. In defence, the applicant could only offer the potential of improved cellular phone service. Council members listened attentively, and very quickly and decisively rejected the application.

Working together, members of the aviation community showed their determination to preserve our freedom to fly.