HONOURING MARK: More than a dozen members of the Qualicum Beach Fire Department helped town council honour Mark Watson’s 25 years with the department. Watson — who is also well known for his work at Quality Foods — was presented with a plaque and wood carving. Above from left are Chief Darryl Khose

Qualicum Beach town council asked to consider early-morning airport noise

A delegation told council current restrictions are only a local regulation; town staff had an update to that info

A delegation presented a petition and asked Qualicum Beach town council to restrict early morning airport noise.

“We request that a noise abatement procedure (NAP), restricting hours of operation between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., be reinstated… as soon as possible,” said John Webb, speaking for the informal group at council Monday night.

Webb said the current “night restrictions” are only a local regulation, not enforceable by Transport Canada. It restricts aircraft between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

“This means aircraft can take off or land as early as 6 a.m. and make noise even earlier,” Webb said.

But after the meeting, Bob Weir, town director of engineering and airport manager, told The NEWS the town just received news of a new NAP.

“A new Transport Canada inspector came in and he declared our old NAP not compliant and was not enforceable,” Weir said of the old policy.

“We have been working for two years to get an enforceable NAP in place and on Sept. 3,  I got confirmation that I did have that in place,” he said.

The new NAP restricts flights during the same 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. time, except makes it enforceable by Transport Canada and allows medevac and “prior permission” flights.

Weir said the change from 7 to 6 a.m. “was at the request of the operators and a lot of customers trying to make business connections.”

Documents provided to council by the group from the three main commercial airlines using the airport (Orca, KD and Pacific Coastal) show one daily KD Air flight scheduled out of the airport at 6:45 a.m.

The group’s material also shows the many flights out of Vancouver and suggests “with such a variety of times and flights available, it is easy to make a connection when flying from Qualicum Beach; 6:45 a.m. flights are not necessary.”

A provided partial list of early morning and noisy takeoffs and landings only lists the

6:45 a.m. flight and lists some particularly noisy events at various times of day.

The town has a general noise bylaw which restricts “noise which disturbs or tends to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort, or convenience of any person or persons in the neighbourhood or vicinity,” between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The town, which owns and manages the airport, received a Regional District of Nanaimo Northern Community Economic Development grant to redo the airport master plan.

“One aspect was to make it more financially self sustaining, because nobody wants to pay for it even though it acts as a regional airport,” Weir said. “The other is to address things like operating hours, noise complaints, runoffs and changes to the facility. We’re ahead of that game.”

He said the process will include public consultation, but said it was off schedule due to the recently ended labour lockout.

The group delivered the petition signed by 169 people, which Webb said wasn’t an extensive canvass, but a sampling of neighbourhoods across the town.

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