February 28, 2019

Quebec Judge Sides With Float Planes at Lac-à-la-Tortue


A Quebec Superior Court judge has this week dismissed a class action lawsuit against float plane operators brought on by the Coalition Against Noise, a group of citizens who wanted an end to float plane noise on lac-à-la-Tortue in Mauricie, about 10 kilometres northeast of Shawinigan, Quebec.

The Coalition was asking for compensation for the noise emanating from commercial float plane flights on lac-à-la-Tortue, which affected residents in the municipalities of Shawinigan, Hérouxville and Saint-Georges-de-Champlain.

Citing the absence of misconduct, abusive behaviour and abnormal inconvenience, Justice Suzanne Ouellet concluded in her 84-page decision that there were no grounds for the lawsuit against Bel-Air Laurentian Aviation Inc. Additionally, Justice Ouellet ruled that the Coalition had not met its ‘burden of proof’ concerning their allegations against Aviation Mauricie, which ceased operations in 2012.

Justice Ouellet also cited the division among the residents as another factor in her decision to dismiss the lawsuit. Among the 1,747 people involved in the class action, 898 opted out of the process, leading the judge to conclude that the noise generated by the float planes was not an ‘abnormal disadvantage’ for more than 50 percent of the coalition members, and therefore “…do not constitute a neighbourhood disorder.”

The Coalition Against Noise was formed in 2007 with a mandate to fight against noise pollution at the lake. In 2009, Transport Canada introduced measures to mitigate the noise by reducing the times that commercial flights could take place, banning commercial flights during summer statutory holidays, on weekends, before 8 am, during lunch hour (12 pm to 2 pm) and after 5 pm at other times.