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Federal Jurisdiction of Aerodromes Challenged

By Kathy Lubitz, President, Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada, reprinted with permission - Editor

Recently there were two challenges in Quebec to the principle of exclusive federal jurisdiction of aeronautics. This principle has been challenged in the Quebec and other provincial courts a number of times and each time the provinces have lost.

This time the Government of Quebec decided to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. The case is scheduled to be heard in October.

The province of Quebec has been joined in this appeal by the provinces of British Columbia and New Brunswick. If the appeal is successful, the provinces and local municipalities will share jurisdiction with the Federal Government over aeronautics including land and water aeronautics. The provinces and local governments would be able to shut down existing airports and prevent new ones if they are successful in this appeal.

Since most UPAC (as well as many other recreational pilots)fly out of grass strips that are privately owned, we can be severely impacted if Quebec wins this jurisdictional challenge.

Local government to a certain degree is a popularity contest; the guy with the most votes wins. If a few neighbors want to close down a small farm strip (or airport),all they need to do is get enough locals to agree and if they get enough people to outnumber the farmers and pilots at the strip, the strip can get shut down.

Even if provincial and/or municipal governments don’t shut down aerodromes, they can add fees and requirements that would affect all of the little aerodromes and farm strips.

Things can get complicated and expensive real fast.

Little aerodromes are ‘relievers’ for airports, especially since the federal government is discouraging use of larger airports by recreational pilots; they have added new fees and equipment requirements. As the little farm strips get busier, they get more attention from the locals and the fight is on to shut them down.

The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, (COPA), the Government of Canada, and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority are arguing the case for maintaining the exclusive federal jurisdiction over aerodromes.

. . . . Recognizing that UPAC does not have the ability or the financial resources to take an active role in this case, (your) directors felt that combining resources with COPA was the best way to participate. To that end, the (UPAC) Board of Directors voted to make a $5,000 contribution to COPA’s Special Action Fund.

The cheque was presented to Kevin Psutka, COPA President and CEO, at the Waterloo Regional International Airport on August 29.

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