April 1, 2016

President’s Corner – April 2016


A page has turned: consultation for aerodromes now a reality

Most of you are aware of the Responsible Aerodrome Development saga. If not, you can find the history and detailed chronology on our website http://copanational.org/CARAC_Status_report.cfm.

In this whole venture, you may recall the December 2014 Conservative omnibus Bill C-43 in which were buried a few lines relating to aeronautics, giving new powers to the Minister. The Bill became law.

It’s interesting to note that just before the last federal elections and in response to our questions (see page 11 of COPA Flight Nov. 2015), the Liberal Party mentions that “We believe that the changes in the omnibus budget implementation act, C-43, give the Minister of Transportation overly broad powers”.

That being said, on March 4 of this year, Transport Minister Marc Garneau used these powers. He signed an order which prohibits development of an aerodrome in the cities of Mascouche and Terrebonne, unless the following three conditions were met: do the consultation; provide the Minister with the results and receive authorization from the Minister.

The Order then presents a Mascouche-specific recipe. I say Mascouche-specific because the final procedure is not out yet, all we have is the Gazette 1 draft and our own comments. And the recipe seems to be a hybrid of some sort.

Mascouche airport (CSK3, North-East of Montréal) is closing in November 2016. It has been in the crosshairs of politicians for nearly a decade and proponents have been looking for an alternative for a little less time and have recently done some preliminary work to perhaps move the airport to a close-by location.

Back in November 2014 while studying options with the proponents, we all agreed that CSK3 could be a test case of these new powers and that any initiative by the proponents should encompass some consultation and we were right. This Order proves it and has nipped any initiative at the bud.

So what’s next? As a test case, COPA’s suggestion is to closely follow the prescribed process and I am confident the proponents will. It will be interesting to see how the consultation will play out, the costs that were incurred and most of all, what the final decision will be.

This new government boasts about taking evidence-based decisions, which is great. I am looking forward to learn what evidence constitutes “public interest” and to share that in an upcoming COPA guide with all of you.

And the other way around?

There is another urgent matter regarding the responsible aerodrome development which needs to be addressed: obstacle development on land adjacent to aerodromes. If, in the public interest, aerodromes need to consult with outside parties, than the provinces, the municipalities and the utility companies must also consult with aerodromes so as not to impact aviation safety. The “overly broad powers” of the Minister need to be applicable to promote and protect aviation, not to stifle it.

Makes me wonder

Transport Canada’s mandate is to make our transportation system safe as well as promoting and supporting it. In a totally unscientific manner, I just looked up the occurrences of the words “Safety” and “Promote” in the Aeronautics Act over the years and came up with the data below. Should we be on the lookout for over-regulation? Something to ponder.

Aeronautics Act
Occurrences of
Versions “Safety” “Promote”
2003-01-01 to 2003-03-31 28 2
2003-04-01 to 2003-06-29 28 2
2003-06-30 to 2004-05-10 30 2
2004-05-11 to 2005-03-31 39 2
2005-04-01 to 2005-12-11 39 2
2005-12-12 to 2007-05-03 41 2
2007-05-04 to 2008-07-01 42 2
2008-07-02 to 2011-03-22 42 2
2011-03-23 to 2011-12-31 42 2
2012-01-01 to 2014-12-15 42 2
2014-12-16 to 2015-02-06 43 2
2015-02-07 to 2015-02-25 58 2
2015-02-26 to 2015-07-31 58 2
2015-08-01 to 2016-02-15 59 2

Changes at COPA National office

After 41 years of loyal service, on April 1st, our Membership Administrator Ghislaine Desjardins has decided to move on to a new job: retirement.  As our “wise elder” she has seen COPA go through many changes, sometimes hovering, sometimes soaring, sometimes rocketing, witnessing some hard landings as well as great victories.  She stood by through thick and thin and she could probably write a book about her time here!

Please join me in thanking her and wishing her the best: merci Ghislaine!