Skip to main content

e-4364 (Transportation)

Initiated by Tammy Lachapelle-Ward from Katrine, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Transport

  • Some proponents of water aerodromes use the protection of the federal jurisdiction to bypass provincial and municipal authorities to build massive docks and boathouses under the guise of the Aeronautics Act;
  • Current regulations for water aerodromes fail to state that mixed-use docks and structures are not permitted;
  • Current regulations do not require a proponent to be transparent with local authorities about their plans, or require that they provide a copy of the registration or certification documents;
  • Registration and certification of water aerodromes are done without environmental impact assessments from provincial and municipal authorities; and
  • Registration and certification of water aerodromes are done without safety assessments from local authorities.
We, the undersigned, Electors and residents of all lakes in Canada, call upon the Minister of Transport to 1) request an amendment to the current regulations (CARS) that water aerodromes follow the same requirements as land aerodromes, making it mandatory for proponents to consult with local authorities prior to construction of a dock or structure; and 2) request that it is written in the regulations that mixed-use docks and structures will not be protected under federal jurisdiction.

Response by the Minister of Transport

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez

The Aeronautics Act defines an aerodrome as “any area of land, water (including the frozen surface thereof) or other supporting surface used, designed, prepared, equipped or set apart for use either in whole or in part for the arrival, departure, movement or servicing of aircraft and includes any buildings, installations and equipment situated thereon or associated therewith.”

Water aerodromes can be either non-registered, registered, or certified (i.e., certified by Transport Canada and considered “airports”). Registration of a water aerodrome is voluntary and strictly for aviation-related purposes and enhances safety by making safety and navigation-related information and procedures known to pilots in the Canada Water Aerodrome Supplement. Transport Canada (TC) officials review the registration application to ensure that regulatory requirements of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) Part III, Subpart 1 (CAR 301) are met; aerodrome operators are expected to meet the applicable elements of CAR 301 (e.g., have a way to ascertain the direction of the wind) even if not registered. An aerodrome cannot be registered if it does not meet aviation-safety requirements.

Aviation safety assessments at water aerodromes are within federal jurisdiction, and aviation safety at water aerodromes is based on a layered approach. In addition to applicable sections of CAR 301 for the water aerodrome itself and the option to register, the users of water aerodromes (seaplane pilots) are required to take certain precautions when operating at an aerodrome, such as observing for collision, and ensuring that the aerodrome is suitable for the intended operation. As such, a pilot is expected to visually inspect for vessels and other obstacles in the water. Those operating seaplanes are expected to plan for daylight flights, due to being restricted to daytime visual flight rules. A seaplane operator must also follow many applicable marine-related legislation or regulations when on water.

With respect to consultations, it is true that water aerodromes are exempt from the consultation requirements of CARsPart III, Subpart VII (CAR 307) as the aerodrome work criteria would be difficult to apply to water aerodromes since there are no runways to build or extend. Nonetheless, an operator is still required to comply with other federal laws, as well as with provincial/municipal laws that do not conflict with the federal aeronautics’ regime. It is the responsibility of the operator to understand and obtain any applicable permits, approvals, and/or authorizations for work they are doing in or around the water, or even on land, including from an environmental perspective.

Neither the CARs, standards, or associated guidance currently specify a required size for docks or specify any specific facilities needed to support water aerodrome operations. Whether a “mixed-use” installation or building is integral to aviation depends on the situation, and whether the local rules on land use can be applied may differ by municipality and province. Where there is disagreement as to whether a municipal or provincial law applies, the Courts are best positioned to decide.

TC’s Navigation Protection Program administers the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA). The primary purpose of the CNWA is to authorize and regulate works and obstructions that may interfere with the public right to navigation in Canada’s navigable waters. Water aerodrome operators who wish to build docks or installations on the water that are subject to the CNWA are required to comply with this Act.

TC acknowledges the request to amend water aerodrome regulations and will take into consideration the specific concerns heard in this petition. Any decision to proceed with regulatory changes would require further analysis and significant consultations with a wide range of stakeholders. In addition, there may be a range of non-regulatory options to consider. TC will examine these issues closely, including the recommendation in this petition, to determine the appropriate way forward.

Open for signature
April 26, 2023, at 11:11 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
June 25, 2023, at 11:11 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Scott Aitchison (Parry Sound—Muskoka)
October 27, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01844)
Government response tabled
December 11, 2023
Photo - Scott Aitchison
Parry Sound—Muskoka
Conservative Caucus