By Trekker Armstrong, Executive Chair, COPA
CARAC was established in 1993, and is a joint undertaking of the government and the aviation community, with participation from a large number of organizations outside Transport Canada with the intent of representing the overall viewpoint of the aviation community. COPA has been an active participant in these Focus Groups.
Transport Canada’s recent Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA #2013-014) on aerodromes does not reflect accurately the efforts of the Focus Group and will materially damage COPA’s hard work and progress. As written, the NPA would cater to opponents and discriminate against the interests of the aviation enthusiast. The NPA has potential to significantly impact recreational aviation in general, and private owners and operators, in particular.
Transport Canada now wants to move from a permissive environment to what they call “participatory decision making” to ensure that local land use authorities and the public have input and indeed a greater say in whether or not an aerodrome can be established and developed. Furthermore this is also being extended to non-certified new and existing aerodromes. COPA provided direct input on the extent of damage this initiative will cause. COPA’s response can be found on COPA’s National website.
Given the far-reaching potential of this initiative, the industry responded with an unprecedented amount of feedback calling for a Focus Group meeting which finally occurred in June 2014. COPA was in attendance.
In October 2014, COPA, along with other participants of the Focus Group, was completely surprised that an amendment to the Aeronautical Act was hidden as part of the Federal Government’s omnibus budget Bill C-43. None of the participants of the Focus Group had knowledge of this development, or it’s content. Had the Focus Group known that the initiative extended as far as the Act amendment proposes, there would have been considerably different discussions about the implications of the expanded applicability. Given that there was no discussion or consultation with industry about the Act amendment itself and the scope of the application, the Act amendment should have be pulled from Bill C-43 to permit a thorough discussion with the industry.
COPA submitted a brief to the House Standing Committee on Finance and appeared before the Senate Committee on Wednesday, 19 November 2014. At that time COPA’s President & CEO Kevin Psutka asked the House Standing Committee on Transport and the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications to vote in favor of returning the amendment to Transport Canada for consultation with the aviation industry.
Regardless of COPA’s and other industry efforts, Bill C-43 received Royal Assent on 16 December 2014 and is now law.
A continuation of the Focus Group meetings on the proposed Aerodrome NPA was planned for January 2015, but due to scheduling conflict, was postponed. In order to move forward with this initiative, Transport Canada indicated they would publish the Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) through the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council Activity Reporting System in early March 2015. COPA received email notification of the NPA on 26 February 2015. The disadvantage of issuing the NPAs before the Focus Group convenes will make it more difficult to change many of the measures. Now Transport Canada has scheduled the NPA Focus Group to discuss the regulatory proposal on 31 March and 1 April 2015.
As COPA continues to work on this issue, we strongly recommend that every member read the Notice of Proposed Amendment on Aerodromes and send in your written response to the CARAC secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org) with copies to COPA (email@example.com). COPA is in the process of drafting its position brief and it will be available at COPA "Take Action". The cutoff date for comments on this proposed rulemaking is 8 April 2015.
This issue is so important that every member should contact their MPP, MLA or Provincial Transport Minister. Contact information. The time for comment is very short on this critical issue that is fundamental to your Freedom to Fly in Canada.