Welcome to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities of the 42nd Parliament. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) we are doing a study on the impact of aircraft noise in the vicinity of major Canadian airports.
Welcome to the committee members and to our witnesses.
From the Department of Transport, we have Sara Wiebe, director general, air policy; Dave Dawson, director, airports and air navigation services policy; Nicholas Robinson, director, policy and regulatory services; by video conference, Joseph Szwalek, regional director, civil aviation, Ontario; and also by video conference, Clifford Frank, associate director, operations, west.
From Nav Canada, we have Neil Wilson, president and chief executive officer; Jonathan Bagg, senior manager, public affairs; and Blake Cushnie, national manager, performance-based operations.
Thank you very much to all of our witnesses for finding the time to share their knowledge with us today. I would ask that you keep it to five minutes so the committee has sufficient time for their questions.
Ms. Wiebe, go ahead.
Thank you very much for inviting Transport Canada to appear before this committee. I want to take some time with you today to give you Transport Canada's perspective on this important issue. As you mentioned, Madam Chair, I am joined today by colleagues from our national headquarters, and also two colleagues from our regional office in Toronto by video conference.
As you're probably aware, Transport Canada's primary goal is ensuring that Canadians have a safe, secure, economical and environmentally responsible transport system.
To that end, in the 1990s, the government made a series of decisions in order to improve the air transportation system. One decision was to withdraw from the day-to-day operations and business choices of the air navigation systems and airports. As a result, NAV CANADA and airport authorities such as the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, or GTAA, are all now private and not-for-profit share capital corporations. This decision has proved to be a success.
NAV CANADA and the airport authorities that run our largest airports are recognized worldwide for the quality of their services and facilities, and more importantly, for the ongoing improvement of safety levels. These entities have proved to be more agile, innovative, effective and responsive to the needs of stakeholders. They also demonstrate these strengths when it comes to the management of their affairs.
With regard to Toronto and its surrounding area, Transport Canada has observed that, over the past five years, the level of transparency, accountability and inclusion has increased significantly. NAV Canada and the GTAA have been working closely with other stakeholders to find possible ways to reduce the impact of aircraft noise in the area. The stakeholders, including the different levels of governments, the industry and citizens, must participate in these discussions, since we all have a role to play in noise abatement.
However, we think that the specific noise issues are better understood and managed by local stakeholders. NAV CANADA and the airport authorities have been working with local politicians, interest groups and citizens. They'll develop the best solutions, while taking into account trade-offs in terms of flight access, economic development and environmental impact, including aircraft noise.
For instance, Toronto Pearson has been much discussed in the noise conversation to date. It provides direct daily service to more than 67% of the world's economies. The airport also generates or facilitates approximately 332,000 jobs in Ontario, which accounts for $42 billion or 6.3% of Ontario's GDP. By 2030, it is estimated that Toronto Pearson could generate and facilitate 542,000 jobs.
That being said, we recognize that transportation affects the daily lives of Canadians, and we understand that. While transportation serves as a backbone to Canada's economy, transportation activities must take into account the needs of communities while respecting Canadians and the natural environment. That is why our officials have been closely monitoring aviation noise issues while participating in appropriate forums and encouraging progressive action.
Overall, there are many moving parts, and ongoing collaboration among various actors is required. Transport Canada officials will always work to monitor industry, keep abreast of developments, and consider approvals and oversight as needed.
To finish, I would briefly like to review the deck that we've provided to you. I can do that in just a couple of minutes, and then we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
As you can see on slide 2, what we wanted to do with this document was outline how aircraft noise management operates in Canada in a general sense, look at the different actors involved, and highlight Canada's balanced approach to aircraft noise management.
On slide 3, you can see that there are a variety of actors involved in noise management, with varying roles and responsibilities. Successful aircraft noise management involves collaboration among all of these entities. Industry is responsible for day-to-day operations, business decisions and communicating with local stakeholders, while Transport Canada provides regulations, oversight and guidance.
Moving to slides 4 and 5, it is important to recognize the international guidance that's provided on this important issue. We look to the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, which is housed in Montreal. ICAO guidance is centred around its balanced approach to aircraft noise management, and there are four elements that are mutually reinforcing.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good morning, everyone.
As the chair indicated, I'm Neil Wilson. I'm the president and chief executive officer of Nav Canada. I'm joined today by Jonathan Bagg, senior manager, public affairs, and by Blake Cushnie, national manager of performance-based operations.
I'd like to start by thanking the chair, the vice-chairs and the members of this committee for this opportunity to appear.
It's regrettable, but it's nonetheless a fact that noise from aircraft in this day and age is an unavoidable consequence of the operation of aircraft. That said, significant efforts are being made across the entire aviation industry to reduce the impact of aircraft operations on communities. We at Nav Canada are committed to this goal and to collaboration with our partners: airports, airlines, Transport Canada, and the International Civil Aviation Organization—as well as, importantly, communities—on this important issue.
As the country's private, not-for-profit provider of air navigation services, Nav Canada is responsible for the safe and efficient movement of aircraft in all Canadian-controlled airspace. This means that we are responsible for more than 18 million square kilometres of airspace from coast to coast to coast, reaching halfway across the north Atlantic, the busiest oceanic airspace in the world. We handle more than 3.3 million flights per year, and these flights are made by approximately 40,000 customers, including airlines, cargo operators, and business and general aviation.
Our mandate is achieved primarily through the delivery of air traffic control and flight information services; the maintenance, update, and publishing of aeronautical information products; the reliable provision of communications, navigation and surveillance infrastructure; and the 24-7 availability of advanced air traffic management systems, many of which we at Nav Canada develop right here in Canada and have exported around the world.
Thanks to the work of our 5,100 employees, operating out of more than 100 operational facilities throughout the country, Canada boasts one of the best air traffic management safety records in the world. We also achieve this success with a service charges model that has some of the lowest service charges and is among the most cost-effective in the world.
At its heart, simply put, our service is essential to an industry that employees hundreds of thousands of Canadians, allows millions of us to connect to each other and to the world, and propels the Canadian economy forward. That is why we have invested more than $2 billion since 1996, when we assumed responsibility for the air navigation system, to make air travel safer and more efficient.
At the same time, we are also committed to helping reduce the industry's footprint, both in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and aircraft noise, and we are also investing in that. Through technological innovation and procedural improvements, Nav Canada has helped reduce the industry's fuel consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions. We estimate that our efforts resulted in greenhouse gas savings of 1.5 million tonnes in 2017 alone.
In addition, our role as air navigation service provider requires us to ensure that our air traffic control procedures adhere to noise operating restrictions and noise abatement procedures throughout Canada. Nav Canada engages regularly in airspace modernization projects. In deploying advanced procedures, Nav Canada seeks opportunities to place approach and departure paths over non-residential areas, targeting industrial, commercial and agricultural land. In several cases, we have been able to move flight paths or portions of flight paths farther away from residential areas. Newer technologies are also increasing the use of quieter continuous descent operations, which see aircraft descending in a cleaner configuration and at a lower thrust setting.
When I became CEO in 2016, one of the first things I did was to meet certain community leaders concerned with aircraft noise in Toronto to discuss those concerns. As a result, we commissioned, and recently completed, an independent third party airspace review, which looked at noise mitigation at airports around the world, sought input from communities in the Toronto area, and resulted in a series of recommendations that I believe are both meaningful and achievable.
Some of these recommendations were the subject of a significant public consultation process undertaken jointly with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which took place this past spring. As a result of this effort, we will be implementing new nighttime approach and departure procedures this November. These mitigations result in as many as 221,000 fewer people being impacted by noise related to a night flight, depending on the runway and procedure being used. As we evaluate these mitigations and we gather community and stakeholder feedback, we will consider applications at other airports that can benefit from a similar approach.
When developing these airspace improvements, our accountabilities are outlined in the airspace change communications and consultation protocol, which provides guidance on when and how public consultation should occur, while promoting cross-industry collaboration.
We remain committed to working transparently with industry stakeholders and with communities equally, to identify opportunities to reduce the impact of aircraft operations while meeting the airspace needs of this country now and in the future.
Thank you, Madam Chair. We welcome any questions you may have.
Thank you for the question.
When we are looking at flight paths in particular communities, we obviously care about the impact of the changes on those affected around airports. Airports in this country tend to be located in major cities, so there are going to be impacts where aircraft are flying. We take into account the fuel savings and the safety factors that are introduced by changing the air paths. We also engage quite deliberately and carefully with the communities that are affected.
We engage in a number of ways, largely guided by the airspace change communications and consultation protocol, which defines accountabilities in and among the airports, ourselves and other industry stakeholders, as this is really a joint effort that we are all engaged in. When we do so, we have briefings with residents in the affected areas, which are tailored to their concerns. We bring specific information as to how they may be impacted and what possible mitigation there may be around their area. We discuss it with them. We meet with elected officials like you—at this level or at provincial and municipal levels—who represent others who may be impacted, to make sure there's a good understanding of what the issues are. We provide a good deal of information online for those who aren't able to attend the in-person meetings that we have in communities.
We try to do it as early as we can and as consistently as we can. Going back over the years, perhaps we have not done as good a job as we should have. We learned from that and we are trying, day in and day out, to do a better job as we go forward.
Sure. We facilitate the movement of aircraft. We don't decide where the aircraft should go. We don't operate airports. Airports operate airports. Airlines operate airlines. Cargo operators determine their base of operations.
They all have interests in where they should operate from and how they should operate, and we facilitate the movement around that. We make sure that movement can be safe, first and foremost, and we make sure those movements can be efficient.
As those policy decisions are worked through by all the various stakeholders, we are interested, obviously. We want to make sure that this can happen as they see fit. We want to make sure it can happen in a safe way. We want to make sure we are as efficient as possible. As we look at the flight paths that we are called upon to design and to assist with, we want to make sure that if there are going to be communities that are impacted in a negative way, we're there to work to minimize that as much as possible and to provide suggestions on how that might happen.
We are part of this infrastructure. We don't drive those kinds of decisions, but we want to make sure that we are part of the conversation and that we can be as helpful as possible to all the stakeholders and to the communities that might be affected.
Mr. Bagg, I want to thank you. We've met in the past on this issue. I'm going to go into it right away.
One of the effects of aviation noise is that the airways have impacts on smaller operations. It's not only the airplanes coming into major airports. For example, St-Jérôme Airport, CSN3, where there's a dirt strip and a parachute jumping school, is constrained by airway T709 to the west; Mirabel to the south; airway T636 to the north; and St-Esprit, also a parachute school, CES2, to the east. It gives a very narrow box of operations.
The result of this is that the planes in the parachute school, which are very frequent and very noisy, fly over the same community 20, 30 or 40 times a day.
You mentioned that Dorval changed its approaches in 2012, and T709 is one of the victims of that approach. It now goes just west of CSN3. All these aircraft from the Parachutisme Adrénaline flying school are going over the same lake in Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs every day, all day long.
What can we do as a community, working with you, to allow those aircraft to cross the airway and do their climb-outs on the other side? Is there anything we can do together?
Thank you for being here today.
I want to dig a bit deeper on the municipal official plans. Obviously, a lack of discipline to date has put us in the position we're at right now with respect to sprawl around airports.
That being said, official planned amendments and rezoning have allowed that growth to happen around you. My first question is, has the air sector appealed through those processes of official planned amendments and rezoning?
My second question is, do you have the ability to keep that discipline in place to actually appeal to, for example, the Ontario Municipal Board and get favourable decisions so that the sprawl doesn't happen and these complaints aren't as abundant as they are now? Moving forward, is the ability in place for you to do that, so that, although the problem exists, it won't continue to expand well into the future?
That brings us to the conclusion of our first hour of witnesses.
Thank you very much for coming. We may have additional questions and may need to have you back before we finish this study.
We will suspend for a moment while our next panel comes to the table.
The Chair: I call the meeting back to order.
From the Calgary Airport Authority, we have Mr. Sartor, president, and Carmelle Hunka, general counsel and senior director, risk and compliance. Thank you so much for being here.
From the Vancouver Airport Authority, we have, by video conference, Anne Murray, vice-president, airline business development and public affairs; and Mark Cheng, supervisor, noise and air quality.
From Aéroports de Montréal, we have Martin Massé and Anne Marcotte.
Welcome to all of you.
I would like to start with Aéroports de Montréal.
Mr. Massé, go ahead.
Good morning, Madam Chair and committee members.
Thank you for this opportunity to describe the actions we've taken on soundscape management, and to answer your questions as part of efforts to assess the impact of aircraft noise in the vicinity of Canada's major airports.
Under the terms of its lease with Transport Canada, Aéroports de Montréal, or ADM, is responsible for managing and operating Montréal-Trudeau airport and the Mirabel Aeronautics and Industrial Park.
Over the years, Montréal-Trudeau has grown into an aviation hub and the third-largest airport in Canada. The airport serves 151 destinations and is home to 37 air carriers. As a result, it's the most international Canadian airport, since 41% of its passengers travel outside Canada and the United States. Montréal-Trudeau plays a significant role in the economic development of the greater Montreal area, with almost 29,000 direct jobs and some 200 companies on its site.
Soundscape management is and always has been a priority for Aéroports de Montréal. ADM's role is to ensure balance between the airport's growth as a key player in the development of the greater Montreal area and continued harmonious coexistence with its community. This is an integral part of our mission, and we're making sustained efforts to maintain that balance.
We develop our plans by incorporating the principles of the ICAO's balanced approach. We also work with our partners to mitigate the impacts on neighbouring communities of the activities involved in operating an international airport. These partners are the following.
Transport Canada is the regulatory body tasked with ensuring enforcement of the acoustical usage criteria and noise-abatement measures. Transport Canada is empowered to sanction pilots and carriers that violate those rules.
NAV CANADA is responsible for providing air navigation services, which means air traffic control.
Lastly, the airlines are required to fly their aircraft according to the operating hours in effect and comply with the flight procedures at Montréal-Trudeau. They’re also responsible for their aircraft fleets.
As the airport authority, Aéroports de Montréal is responsible for developing a soundscape management plan, setting up a soundscape management advisory committee, and handling complaints regarding noise.
To that end, Aéroports de Montréal put forward a preferential runway system for night-time operations. It ensures compliance with the operating hours in effect at Montréal-Trudeau and performs thorough follow-ups on requests for exemptions.
During the past 15 years, despite significant increases in passenger numbers, the total number of aircraft movements has remained relatively stable. It would therefore be wrong to conclude that Montréal-Trudeau's growth necessarily means an equivalent or proportional increase in the number of movements.
Aircraft today are larger, carry more passengers, and are less noisy. Technical and technological improvements have resulted in major noise reduction over the past decade.
To measure noise levels, Aéroports de Montréal has eight noise-measurement stations, including one mobile unit. ADM publishes the equivalent continuous sound levels, or the Leq, recorded by the various noise-measurement stations located around the airport.
These stations are positioned strategically along the runway centrelines. The equipment is installed and calibrated by independent professionals. The system is linked to NAV CANADA radar data, which ensures that the noises recorded are correlated to aircraft movements.
Night flights are a significant concern for our soundscape management program. Managing flight schedules is a complex exercise for air carriers. On the one hand, the passenger community wants access to a variety of destinations at the best possible cost, and on the other hand, reducing the number of night flights is a crucial requirement.
ln addition to studying all requests for exemptions, ADM enforces the flight schedule restrictions in effect at Montréal-Trudeau. ADM meets regularly with air carriers that have operated flights outside its normal operating hours to demand that they implement action plans to remedy these situations.
Montréal-Trudeau airport is open 24 hours a day to aircraft weighing less than 45,000 kilograms. These are mainly propeller-driven aircraft and CRJ-type planes.
Heavier aircraft are subject to restricted operating hours. Jet aircraft weighing more than 45,000 kilograms must land between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m. and take off between 7 a.m. and midnight. ADM may grant exemptions as stipulated in the Canada Air Pilot.
Lastly, in co-operation with its soundscape management advisory committee, Aéroports de Montréal is continuing to develop further noise-abatement measures to benefit the Montreal community. To that end, an important action plan will be presented shortly to the committee members.
The plan comprises 26 actions in seven categories. These categories are restrictions on night flights; the use of quieter aircraft; noise-abatement procedures at takeoff and landing; the publication of reports and indicators that are more meaningful to the communities; the update of the complaints management policy; land-use planning; and the involvement of neighbouring communities.
Our objective is to reduce the impact of the activities related to airport operations; to provide incentives for air carriers to use the quietest possible aircraft; and to reduce the number of flights taking place during restricted operating hours.
Residents of large cities are exposed to different types of noise from a variety of sources, such as road networks, vehicles, railways and air traffic. It’s therefore important that these sources be properly identified.
ln that context, regarding the land-use planning category, I want to reiterate that ADM endorses the recommendation by Montreal’s public health directorate to enforce action 18.1 of the City of Montreal’s urban plan. This plan calls for the establishment of a coordinating committee with the Ministère des Transports du Québec and the various organizations and firms involved in freight transportation, including CP and CN, the Montreal Port Authority and Aéroports de Montréal, in order to limit noise pollution in residential areas. On multiple occasions, we’ve invited the City of Montreal to establish this type of committee, while pledging our collaboration.
Good morning, Madam Chair and members of the committee.
Thank you for inviting me here today to present the perspective of the Calgary Airport Authority.
First, I'd like to emphasize that YYC noise management is a priority, as the city now surrounds its major airport.
Airports around the world share similar challenges when it comes to air traffic noise. Airports are the hub for aircraft arrivals and departures, but those aircraft are owned and operated by the air carriers of the world, and the arrivals and departures are directed by Nav Canada. This is important context for our discussions today and for the study you are conducting.
Today I'd like to walk you through three important considerations from the perspective of the Calgary Airport Authority: our economic contributions to the city of Calgary; information about our operations, their impact on our local communities and our approach to noise management; and lastly, some real perspective on the noise calls received from our communities.
I hope to demonstrate how the authority continuously monitors performance to balance airport operations with community concerns, especially during periods of growth, as we are experiencing today.
First, I think it is critical for the committee to understand that the international airports represented here today are economic and employment powerhouses in our respective cities. In Calgary, YYC contributes approximately $8 billion to the city's GDP annually, and 24,000 Calgarians are employed directly at the YYC campus. Nearly 50,000 jobs are created and maintained by our operations, and our airport has continued to grow through the tough economic times in Alberta in recent years, with 3.8% growth in passenger volumes in 2017 and a 7% growth rate to date in 2018. I also have to stress that the growth in demand by our cargo carriers is critical to economic viability and to the city of Calgary. We saw a 7.7% increase in cargo volumes last year alone.
The economic driver that airports are to our cities must be a major consideration as you undertake a review of the impact of aircraft noise. With the number of passengers increasing, we have actually seen a reduction in the total number of aircraft movements from 2016 to 2017 due to upgauging of aircraft. Our average daily movements have dropped from 636 to 615.
In 2017, over 95% of flights at YYC occurred between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight. This means that less than 5%, or on average only 29 of a total of 615 flights per day, are arriving and departing at YYC between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
While airports share similar challenges, it is also important to understand that each airport must address its local concerns, and those concerns may be unique to that airport or to that community.
At YYC, we have an active noise monitoring program; in fact, we have 16 noise monitoring stations throughout the city. We have significant community engagement through consultative committee meetings and ad hoc community open houses. We conduct active investigation of noise concerns. We regularly report information regarding activities at the Calgary airport that impact noise, such as runway closures or construction that results in changed traffic patterns. Finally, we collaborate with Nav Canada and the major air carriers to discuss innovations and industry-leading practices in aircraft noise management at airports.
At the Calgary airport, we have the support of the city and the province in noise management through a commitment to the Calgary International Airport vicinity protection area regulation, a provincial regulation known as the AVPA. The AVPA regulates the development of urban areas in Calgary, as well as Edmonton, based on the noise contours for our city arising from air traffic. The development of the urban landscape of Calgary has largely followed the noise contours, keeping residential developments removed from the highest noise contours.
The third item I would like to discuss is the calls we receive at the airport regarding noise. At YYC, we have continued to receive calls regarding noise and the frequency of air traffic since the opening of our new runway in 2014. We received over 5,700 calls in 2017, a reduction of 11% from 2016. However, what is very important to understand is that a large volume of the calls come from a small group of people. At YYC, five callers made 72% of all the calls received in 2017. That is 4,100 calls from five individuals. Two individuals called over 2,700 times, which is 48% of the calls received. In a city of 1.2 million people, we received calls from less than 3% of the population, or about 400 households.
Restricting air traffic at one airport, as we've seen in Europe, does only one thing: It moves the air traffic to another airport. The demand will remain, and the demand will be serviced somehow.
We cannot remove the noise, but we have to take a balanced approach to managing noise, between the needs of the public—who demand more choices in travel destinations and who are increasingly ordering deliveries online—and the residents of the communities over which aircraft fly, as well as the significant role airports play in the economic development of our cities.
I'm happy to answer any questions. Thank you.
Good morning, Madam Chair, and thank you for the opportunity to speak to the committee today.
Large Canadian airports are managed by local, not-for-profit organizations. Under this unique model, we receive no government funding and are not beholden to shareholders. We reinvest all profits back into our airports.
At YVR, Vancouver International Airport, this model is underpinned by our commitment to our neighbouring communities. This includes managing airport noise to balance the need for safe, convenient 24-hour air travel with enjoyable urban living.
It's our mandate to provide economic and social benefits to the people of British Columbia and operate the airport in the best interest of the region, while keeping safety as our first priority.
YVR is a key economic generator for the region. We facilitate $16.5 billion in total economic output and $8.5 billion in total GDP. Last year, we welcomed more than 24 million passengers. We are also home to 24,000 jobs at the airport.
Vancouver Airport Authority's ground lease with the federal government requires us to manage noise associated with airport operations within 10 nautical miles of the airport. We do so through a comprehensive noise management program, which has a number of core elements: a five-year noise management plan, stakeholder engagement, maintaining noise abatement procedures, noise monitoring and flight tracking, and providing information to answer community questions and concerns.
We're currently updating the five-year noise management plan, and that will go to Transport Canada by year-end. To do so, we engaged residents and stakeholders for their input to customize initiatives for our region. While the core elements are common, each solution must cater to individual airports' unique and local issues and conditions.
As you realize, aircraft noise can be quite technical, but really there are three main ways of addressing it: the aircraft itself; when, where and how the aircraft flies; and the residents, where they live and the environment in which they live.
Looking at the aircraft itself is about reducing noise at the source. Aircraft noise and emissions certification standards are set by ICAO, and the aircraft must meet these standards to operate in Canada.
Over the years, the airlines have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrading their fleets. These aircraft are cleaner and quieter, producing less noise and less emissions.
Secondly, we look at the operating procedures and noise control procedures. This is the part that relates to where and how the airplanes fly. Airports have noise abatement procedures that include night restrictions and preferential runway use. Nav Canada manages the airspace and has procedures to minimize flights over populated areas. The airlines train their crews to fly community-friendly.
The third area we can focus on is the receiver, the person, where they live and what they expect. We work with local cities to manage, through land use planning, the number of people living in high-noise areas. YVR supports the Transport Canada guidelines that discourage non-compatible land use in areas close to airports.
How are we doing? In 1998, we had 369,000 aircraft landings and takeoffs and welcomed 15.5 million passengers. Last year, we had 39,000 fewer aircraft landings and takeoffs and almost 9 million more passengers. To put that in perspective, that's 50% more passengers and 10% less aircraft movement compared to 20 years ago, and all of those operations are with quieter aircraft.
As for noise complaints, in 2017 we received 1,293 noise concerns from 253 people. Four individuals were responsible for 64% of our complaints, two of whom live more than 23 kilometres from the airport. For comparison, the greater Vancouver region has about 2.8 million people.
With respect to night operations, 3% of our total annual runway movements occur between midnight and 6 a.m., an average of 27 operations per night in 2017. These flights are a mix of passenger and courier services. To manage the noise from the night operations, we have procedures and restrictions in place, including an approval process for jet aircraft departures, the closure of our north runway between specified hours, and preferential runway use to keep aircraft landings and takeoffs over the water, where possible.
Our survey results show that we have the community support to grow our air services so long as we continue to manage aircraft noise. We have been successful in doing so within the strong federal framework in place and the flexibility to apply local solutions.
Thank you for the opportunity to share why we are successful today.
We would be happy to answer any questions.
Thank you for your question.
I don't think that I can determine who's right in the debate. One thing is certain, at Aéroports de Montréal, most of the transportation of large cargo is handled at Mirabel airport, and the transportation of small cargo is handled at Montréal-Trudeau.
Is this the right decision? As fate would have it, we have two airports to manage. Would cargo companies like to be closer to downtown? This is likely the case, but for management reasons, we prefer to keep the transportation of large volumes of cargo at Mirabel.
You know that, now, in the direct passenger service business model, the option of carrying cargo in the aircraft hold is an integral part of the business case. This obviously goes through Montréal-Trudeau.
Mr. Sartor, as you are well aware, I represent a part of Calgary that is a long way from the airport, yet we are now getting complaints about aircraft noise, planes that are 3,000 feet off the ground.
I asked Nav Canada this question, so I'll ask you folks as well. Can you explain to my constituents why this is happening today? Are there alternatives? As I said to Nav Canada, it seems to me that this parallel approach they're now using over Sarcee Trail could just as easily be another mile or two to the west, where there's nothing but cattle to disturb, but that causes another problem, I guess.
Could you explain to me why that's not an option, and why my constituents are facing noise half an hour away from the airport?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to make a comment before I begin my questions. During the presentations by the witnesses who appeared via videoconference, the sound was so bad that it was practically impossible for the interpreters to do their work. When the committee receives guests via videoconference, I wonder whether it would not be worthwhile to do a sound test before the meeting begins to ensure that the communication will be good. That is the end of my comment, and I will leave that with you, Madam Chair.
My questions are for the Aéroports de Montréal, because that is the area I know best. However, I invite the other witnesses to intervene without hesitation if some of the issues speak to them as well.
Some of the points in your presentation were of particular interest to me, such as your statement that you co-operate with many organizations, including Transport Canada. That department is the regulatory body in charge of enforcing acoustic criteria. I have asked about the nature of those acoustic criteria about twelve times. Acoustics are a clear concept for musicians like myself; they are measured in decibels, frequencies, reverberation and even in soundproofing terms. Every time I asked the question, however, no one was able to provide me with any clear acoustic criteria, nor with any scientific numerical standard. Would you, Mr. Massé, be in a position to clarify these acoustic criteria you are attempting to have respected?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have a number of questions, so I'll ask for relatively short answers. If you want to expand on any of them, please feel free to submit a note to us, so it can go into the record.
We'll head out west, first and foremost.
Good morning, Ms. Murray and Mr. Cheng.
People in every community—including some in our own—that receives news that Amazon is going to open up a great big new facility jump up and down, rub their hands together and say, oh boy. Then the people at the airport say, okay, here it comes, more aircraft with more cargo, etc.
I'm wondering if, in the context of metro Vancouver, YVR has any kind of strategic collaboration with Abbotsford to see if it's possible to manage not only the noise issue of additional cargo flights, but also time shifting to make sure that they're arriving at less sensitive times, and perhaps to consider the ground transportation that inevitably comes after a cargo plane lands.
I have a general question. Do you work with Abbotsford to look at the larger strategic issues in our region? Could you speak to growth as well?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you all for being here today. Thank you for coming from Calgary and Montreal. For you in Vancouver, even though you're not here, it's great to see you tonight.
I want to start with you, Mr. Sartor. In Edmonton, we have a fantastic airport, too. However, we're also in the process of looking at building that third runway, eventually. Depending on whom you talk to, it seems to be around the corner, but it's not quite at the stage that you guys are at. However, we're in a different situation. I don't think I've received a single complaint in my riding—and it goes right up to the edge of the city limits—because there's quite a distance, still, from the airport.
In terms of lessons learned—maybe it's consultation with the community—do you have some advice, perhaps, that you could pass on to me when we head down that path, which I hope is around the corner?
Certainly. The Calgary airport has been in its existing location since 1937. The city was but a distant cluster of homes and businesses quite far away. What happened is that the city grew around the airport over a period of time. One thing that has been extremely helpful in Alberta—and it's a unique Alberta phenomenon—is the airport vicinity protection area. That was put in place in 1972, I think. Effectively, it looked at those noise exposure forecasts, based on aircraft at the time, in 1972, and said that any kind of residential development of any significance—schools, places of worship, those kinds of things—should not be built here.
So yes, the city is built around it, but unfortunately, even with those noise exposure forecasts.... The noise exposure forecasts are very beneficial, because they forced the municipality, if it wishes to build there, to work collaboratively with the airport. Unless the municipality and the airport agree, the legislation, which is provincial, will override. That's a real plus.
Having said that, we have not moved those noise exposure forecasts since 1972. The reality is that, while aircraft have gotten quieter, we've had much densification around the airport. The challenge is, even with great legislation.... The important thing, realistically, is a set of acoustical standards that will make sense for homes that are built on flight paths. That's something we're working on with the municipality right now. I don't think we'd have the opportunity to do that if we didn't have what we call the vehicle or the tool of the airport vicinity protection area.
My question is for Mr. Massé.
I represent a riding in Mississauga, in the GTA. I'll tell you about my observations, but my actual question will be, what can we learn from Mirabel?
What I've observed is that Billy Bishop can't really reach its full potential because residents don't want the noise there. We're a bit disconnected. I like Pearson. I go through it and it's going to grow. I don't know if the infrastructure in the cities will be able to handle that unless we can get some rail in there and people moving through passenger means.
Pickering is a bit far, and Hamilton is a bit far. A solution, it seems to me, would be an airport north of the escarpment. It would be close to Hamilton and Pearson and would open up Guelph and Kitchener.
What can we learn from the Mirabel experience, though?