The issue at Cape Lazo is not safety vs. trees/birds.
Any possible safety issue was addressed last summer during the Crown Isle controversy. Inconvenience was the only concern raised in news reports this fall.
Ms. Usherwood’s reference to Air France 358 and to an unidentified incident involving loss of life is disingenuous when the circumstances bear absolutely no resemblance to the matters at issue at Cape Lazo.
The forest does not encroach on runway approaches. It is a mature forest with a canopy height that has been quite constant since long before the airport.
Suggesting it is a flight safety hazard is like blaming Gil Island for the sinking of the Queen of the North.
The real issue is whether DND must comply with Canadian law.
Ms. Usherwood claims the International Civil Aviation Convention sets tree-cutting requirements.
In fact, it only establishes standards and recommendations and requires that ICAO be given notice when a country departs from those standards (Article 38). Whether antiquated or not, the Aeronautics Act still forms the basis of Canadian aviation law.
Canadian law does allow interference with private property rights in the public interest, but only in accordance with zoning, contract, and/or expropriation law. Some say that private property rights should be included in the Charter of Rights for greater protection. John Duncan has spoken in favour of this in the past.
Today the forest is greatly reduced, but still here. In 1942, part of the forest was cleared to establish CFB Comox. DND could have acquired more land but did not do so.
The 1982 Zoning Regulations were passed to prevent future development. According to DND’s own documents, they have no effect on existing obstacles:
“Obstacles existing at the time [the] Zoning Regulation comes into force are not affected…. Removal of such an obstacle by legal means can only be done by acquiring the property under the Expropriation Act or payment of compensation.” (TP308/GDH209, Annex F)
If DND wants to enter onto and adversely affect private property, it is only reasonable to expect strict compliance with Canadian law.