Coun. Barry Avis still opposed to Qualicum Beach Airport business plan

Director of engineering Bob Weir once again said flight paths have not changed

Qualicum Beach town council has accepted the Qualicum Beach Airport Business Plan as amended and referred it to the Official Community Plan review steering committee.

Coun. Barry Avis, who voted against accepting the plan, said he was still concerned about an increase of aircraft using the airport. Avis also said he was concerned with the increased catchment area, adding that it almost infers a little bit of competition with the Comox and Nanaimo airports.

CAO Daniel Sailland said the catchment area shown in the plan was identified by a consultant and it shows where passengers are currently coming from. Sailland also said that the draft states that there are no plans to compete with Comox or Nanaimo.

“What we’re trying to do is find the balance to say, you know what, what is reasonable growth rate for an airport to continue to thrive while not being something that it’s not, which is a Comox or a Nanaimo,” Sailland said.

As for local residents’ complaints of changed flight paths, which were initially brought up at the Nov. 8 committee of the whole meeting, director of engineering Bob Weir said once again the flight path has not changed.

“What has changed is that prior to 2012, we had a voluntary noise abatement procedure, whereby we tried to get planes to turn south at certain points, both departing and arriving. During a routine inspection in August 2012, (an inspector) flew the approaches and considered them illegal,” Weir said.

That same month, Weir said, they started to work on a noise abatement procedure in accordance with Canadian aviation procedures that would produce an enforceable noise abatement procedure that could be enforced by Transport Canada.

“It took one-and-a-half years to advance our application to the point where it was supported by the Pacific region of Transport Canada,” said Weir, adding that it was approved in September 2015. “Before there was nothing enforceable by Transport Canada and anybody could turn north whenever they wanted.”

Weir said they are working with Transport Canada and the Comox military radar to enforce regulations on noise abatement.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m.