November 9, 2017

Freedom to Fly Fund Update


The Freedom to Fly Fund was created to guarantee that COPA would have the resources to take on emergency actions, legal or otherwise, in the defense of the Canadian Freedom to Fly. The fund’s most recent success was the defense of aerodromes in Collingwood and Stayner, ON, who were threatened by a proposed wind-turbine farm that would have placed towers unacceptably close to the circuit and approach paths at those airports. Through the Fund, we mounted a successful legal opposition and its proponents abandoned the project.

The Fund is also currently being used to defend the proponents of the Mascouche Airport in Quebec. The owners of the airport entered into an agreement with the municipality to relocate the airport in exchange for up to $3 million in financial support to assist with the relocation. The municipality since reneged on the agreement and is currently attempting to block the construction of the airport in the new location citing Quebec’s provincial environmental laws. Last month, COPA announced its support of the airport’s defence through the Freedom to Fly Fund and we are hopeful of a positive outcome on this case.

A second project underway revolves around the need for a new general aviation airport in the Greater Toronto Area, with a focus on the Pickering lands. Through the Fund, COPA has put forth recommendations to the federal government that the region requires a replacement for the soon-closing Buttonville Airport. The project is currently being reviewed.

Since its creation, COPA’s Freedom to Fly Fund has enabled some other significant successes in defending general aviation in Canada. The two biggest successes were in the Supreme Court of Canada where COPA argued the federal supremacy to regulate aviation could not be infringed on by provincial and municipal laws. The court upheld COPA’s position in what is commonly known as the Quebec vs. COPA decision and the Lacombe decision.

The association has also succeeded, thanks to the resources available through the Fund, in getting Transport Canada to revise proposed regulations that would have severely hindered aerodrome construction in Canada. Changes to the CARs in January of 2017 require proponents to undergo a consultation process with surrounding stakeholders before proceeding, subject to certain conditions. COPA has been working collaboratively with Transport Canada on a new Advisory Circular which will provide clear direction on the requirements for consultation.

The Freedom to Fly Fund has as a goal to maintain a ready, $1 million reserve to allow COPA the means to wage these battles in defense of our members and our Freedom to Fly. This Fund is made available through the generous donations of COPA members and supporters, to ensure that we continue to enjoy our freedoms, such as the right to have an airstrip on your property. For more information on the fund, including how to contribute, please contact our office.