In 2003, the residents of this community were asked to vote on a referendum that would directly provide most of the funding of a new terminal and ramp and get the commercial airport up and running.
The vote was positive and the airport took off with the traffic count growing year after year. People all over the North Island began depending on the airport as a reliable means of transportation to and from the community. However, the reliability has dropped considerably during the past two years.
People living in the community and working in the oil patch used to make their way to Edmonton and be in Comox a couple of hours later. Now there are times when they are routed Edmonton to Vancouver to Campbell River and ground transportation back to Comox.
They no sooner get home than they have to leave because they can’t count on departing from Comox. People from surrounding communities are arriving to catch a departure that has been cancelled because the aircraft was unable to get into Comox.
This community deserves better. The very least it deserves is regular updating on:
1. Exactly what the problem is;
2. What is being done to resolve it;
3. When can resolution be expected.
This is being written through the media with the hope that the Comox Valley Airport Commission chair will reply in the same manner so residents may get some answers.
In September 2013 it was alluded that tree growth had penetrated the airport zoning. If that is the case, why are the owners of the property not simply ordered to have them topped or removed?
It has been my impression that the Aeronautics Act and ensuing air regulations provided legality for enforcement. The following examples provide support for this:
1. As one of the CVAC directors is well aware, the new hospital committee determining the site for the new hospital was forced to abandon the first selection because of airport zoning laws.
2. Transport Canada ordered the removal of eight wind turbines in the vicinity of the Chatham-Kent municipal airport because they violated the zoning regulations (Chatham Daily News — June 15, 2013).
Maybe more specific zoning regulations are required. If so, perhaps the following extract from the Wabush Airport in Labrador may help:
“5. Where an object of natural growth on any land to which these regulations apply exceeds in elevation any of the surfaces referred to in 4(a) to c, The Minister may direct the owner or occupier of the land on which the object is growing to remove the growth or the excess portion thereof.”
Unfortunately we do not know whether the problem is lack of regulation or lack of fortitude to enforce existing regulations.