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Responsible Aerodrome Development?

By Ed Lubitz, EAA Canadian Council, EAA 16074

Transport Canada has proposed a consulting process for the establishment or expansion of all aerodromes within Canada. If you fly, it will affect you. It is an onerous and expensive process that will not only restrict aviation but will add substantial costs to the operating expense of each and every aerodrome or airport. The NPA (notice of proposed amendment) is titled “Responsible Aerodrome Development”. I will outline it for you, but I also encourage you to read the original document.

The Government of Canada has exclusive jurisdiction over aeronautics and has established a legal framework through the Aeronautics Act (the Act) and the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs), which set robust safety requirements for the civil aviation industry. The Act provides the Governor in Council with the authority to make regulations with respect to the location, inspection, certification, registration, licensing, and operation of aerodromes. In addition, recent amendments to the Act provide the Governor in Council with the authority to make regulations with respect to consultations.

The Minister may only prohibit the development of an aerodrome for safety reasons or if it is in the public interest.

The above statements are taken from the NPA and outline Transport Canada’s responsibility as it stands today. An aerodrome is any surface that an aircraft can land on and the necessary manoeuvring area adjacent to it. If I land my aircraft in a field, a lake, or a lane, it is an aerodrome. An airport is a certified aerodrome that meets a series of Transport’s requirements to aid in the safe operation of aircraft. By definition, all airports are aerodromes but not all aerodromes are airports. Generally, airports are larger aerodromes because most small aerodromes cannot justify the expense of complying with airport requirements.

Transport maintains responsibility for aeronautics as well as harbours and railroads because they are considered in the national interest and would become inoperative if all local opponents were allowed to exercise an uninformed political view. The proposed amendment will require the aerodrome operator to engage the public. It is estimated within the NPA that the range of cost for a small registered or unregistered aerodrome will be a one-time charge of $6,000 to $15,000. It goes on to state that small is considered to be 100 employees or less and with a gross annual revenue of between $30,000 and $5 million.

This consultation process must be implemented when a new aerodrome is to be established or changes to the existing level of service at an aerodrome are to be undertaken in a non-built-up area if:

  1. It is within 4 kilometers of a built-up or protected area.
  2. It is within 30 nautical miles of a registered or certified aerodrome.

The consultation process need not be implemented if:

  1. It is an ad hoc aerodrome (used less than 30 days a calendar year).
  2. Modifications do not result in a change to existing levels of service.
  3. It is an aerodrome used solely for agricultural operations.    

Pre-Consultation: You must notify Nav Canada and Transport Canada of the proposal regardless of the requirement to conduct a public consultation.

Consultation Process

  1. Advise local land-use authorities and nearby registered and certified aerodromes.
  2. Public notification of an upcoming consultation of a proposed aerodrome development. Must be mailed or hand delivered. Advise it is not junk mail.
  3. Ensure that public notification provides at least 30 days for written public comment.
  4. Public notification must include:

a)      General description of the purpose of the aerodrome development

b)      Proposed location including civic address, geographic coordinates, and a picture

c)      Environmental status under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

d)     Detailed scope of the development work, with description of changes to the facility

e)      Attestation that the installation will adhere to local building and fire codes

f)       Attestation that Nav Canada, Transport Canada, local land-use authorities’ registered and certified aerodromes, and the local public are being engaged in the consultation process

g)      Notice that the consultation process is displayed on Transport Canada’s website

h)      Closing date for submission of written public comments.

Newspaper notification is required, and there are another six items detailing how notification is to be done.

Signage is required with a further six items about your sign and what your sign must have on it.

Community information session is then dragged out in excruciating detail of how, when, where, and with whom you will consult. This section takes up about two pages of details. It also states that you must justify why you need an aerodrome and why you can’t use another. This is like justifying why you can’t use your neighbour’s driveway rather than putting in your own. According to Transport Canada this whole process should be completed within 111 days. At the end, a final public record of the details will be produced and made available on request for five years.

If a resolution cannot be reached, Transport Canada can be requested to intervene and TC will make a decision within 60 days.

After I read this NPA, I was reminded of a world history professor’s remark that Rome didn’t fall because they couldn’t support the army but rather because the bureaucrats forced it into insolvency.

What can you do? Our best hope is that everyone will write to their member of parliament (MP) and the Minister of Transport expressing his own personal reasons why this politically driven NPA is a bad idea and that it should be withdrawn. I’ve included a form letter – for those who are pressed for time – to copy and send in to your MP and the Minister of Transport. Remember if you are going to use snail mail, you do not have to put a stamp on the envelope; it’s free if you are sending the letter to the MP.

Form letter body

To: Hon. Minister of Transport or Member of Parliament

Re: Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA): Responsible Aerodrome Development #2013-014

I am writing to you today to express my displeasure and disagreement with the following Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council (CARAC) Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) “Responsible Aerodrome Development”.

“Responsible Aerodrome Development” is so badly flawed that it should be withdrawn. Poorly written, non-enforceable legislation creates confusion and ultimately harms rather than enhances the basic fabric of the nation.

No other use of my personal property comes under such ill-advised scrutiny. This NPA will reduce personal freedom by restricting the use of my property. This freedom has been in place since aviation began but is now being threatened by making it so onerous and expensive that no one will bother. Local grass air strips will eventually be eradicated by bureaucratic strangulation.

The current regulations for the development of private air strips have been working well. There are the occasional abuses of the aerodrome, but all should not have to pay for the abuses of a few. If Transport was truly concerned about safety, the few abuses of the system would be addressed rather than generating a one-size-fits-all approach. You can kill flies with a sledgehammer, but it’s not very economical in the long run.

Due to the flawed NPA, I would like the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, to withdraw this NPA or at the very least send it back to the CARAC committee for a complete rewrite.

Sincerely yours:

Contact Information

Your response must go to CARAC to be considered in the NPA rewrite. You can also send copies to your MP, the Minister of Transport, and anyone else you think is appropriate, but CARAC is the required recipient. You can use e-mail or snail mail.

If you e-mail, put “NPA – Responsible Aerodrome Development” in the subject line. If you snail mail, add “NPA – Responsible Aerodrome Development” on the outside of the envelope in the bottom left corner. Don’t forget to allow extra time.

Editor’s note: Responses were due by April 8, but readers are still encouraged to contact their MP, MPP, the Transport Minister, and the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council and present their reaction to the notice of proposed amendment.

To CARAC, send e-mail to carrac@tc.gc.ca.

Snail mail

To: Mélanie Drouin
Manager, Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council 
Transport Canada | Transports Canada
Place de Ville, 330 Sparks Street, AARBH
Ottawa, ON

K1A 0N5

To your Member of Parliament

Local MP and contact information

If you send a letter to your MP via snail mail, send it to the House of Commons address in Ottawa or her constituency office and you will not need postage.

For example:

The Honourable Lisa Raitt

House of Commons
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

E-mail her at lisa.raitt@parl.gc.ca.

Her constituency office is at:

86 Main Street East (Main Office)

Milton, ON

L9T 1N3

If you send your response as an e-mail attachment, please write a simple statement of support for COPA, UPAC, and EAA Canadian Council in the body of the e-mail.

Send a copy to EAA Canadian Council to edwardlubitz@gmail.com or by snail mail to:

            907289 Twp Rd 12, RR #4

            Bright, ON

            N0J 1B0

Send a copy to COPA to pgilligan@copanational.org or by snail mail to:

71 Bank Street, 7th Floor

Ottawa, ON

K1P 5N2

Send a copy to UPAC to klubitz@upac.ca or by snail mail to:

            907289 Twp Rd 12, RR #4

            Bright, ON

            N0J 1B0

Remember we are all in this together!

Editor’s note: We also received the following very clear and well-written e-mail.

From: Jim Farmer [mailto:jfarmer@industrialperformance.com]

Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 11:15 AM
Subject: Notice of Proposed Amendment: Aerodromes


The NPA requires the same level of public scrutiny, should I want to cut the grass at my farm and fly my airplane from the resulting grass strip, as would be required by development of the proposed international airport in Pickering.


No other use of my personal property comes under the same scrutiny. I can drive my car, ATV, snowmobile, etc. across my land unhindered. If I annoy my neighbours, there are mechanisms in place to ask me to stop. But under this amendment, I cannot land my airplane. This right has been in place since aviation began but is now being effectively taken away as the amendment will make it so onerous, and I would have such a small chance of success that no one will bother. All of the local grass air strips will eventually go out of use as people retire from flying, and no new ones will be created to replace them.


I would like to point out that there is presently no national policy regarding aviation, which would guide us into the future. That would hopefully prevent such draconian and ad hoc measures as are being proposed here. I would also like to point out that Transport Canada’s yearly review from 2013 did not mention general aviation, although it has responsibility and jurisdiction. I believe this segment of aviation, which is the spawning ground for pilots that go on to populate the airlines, is not considered when legislation and rules are proposed.


We are not served as a country when general aviation is ignored by those who are responsible for its health and well-being.


There are many small rural grass strips in Canada. There will be no more when this goes into effect. I understand that it is expected to cost $6,000 to $15,000 and 3 months of work (TC’s estimate) before I can even think about leveling a hayfield and spreading some grass seed.


I also take exception to the short notice period of 30 days. Although I am aware that there was a single meeting about this more than a year ago, with a limited invitation list, that hardly constitutes appropriate notice that TC was considering these draconian measures.


What is at stake is the grassroots of aviation, and that is where our pilots come from!


It is my expectation that Transport Canada have a mandate to protect our aviation rights and privileges as well as promote the safety of general aviation.


This proposal is the antithesis of that expectation.


Please add me to any communication lists so that I may stay abreast of this issue.


Cc: David Tilson, MP


Cc: The Honourable Lisa Raitt

Minister of Transport


Yours truly,


Jim Farmer, P.Eng., MASc.

Mulmur, ON

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