Airports should be forced to consult urban residents, says MP

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Some urban dwellers find nighttime airport noise almost intolerable

An interesting story from the Peace Arch News caught our eye over the last week. Reporter Kevin Diakiw did a story about how the City of Surrey is supporting a motion by Marlene Jenkins, MP to ensure airports are forced to consult before they change their nighttime flight paths. An issue that has proven to be controversial in Surrey over the years.

The issue of airport noise is a thorny one in most urban areas. That's because as cities grow, more people move into surrounding neighbourhoods and are impacted by the noise airports generate. This is despite the fact that most people who moved into the neighbhourhood or urban area must have known that an airport was within spitting distance of the property they were purchasing.

Airports are huge economic generators for most major urban centres. For example, in Vancouver, the airport supports over 20,000 direct jobs. The following is an excerpt from YVR's website outlining just how big they actually are:

Canada’s second busiest airport, Vancouver International Airport welcomed 17.9 million people in 2008, facilitated more than 278,000 aircraft take-offs and landings on our runways and handled 211,300 tonnes of cargo.

Since 1992, when the Airport Authority assumed responsibility for the airport, passenger traffic has increased more than 78% from 9.9 million passengers, and cargo has increased nearly 57% from 144,000 tonnes.

If Jenkins' resolution is passed, it would fundamentally change the relationship between Canada's biggest airports and the urban centres that surround them. In a letter to Surrey City Council, Jenkins wrote:

This motion, if passed, would require all Canadian urban-located airports to hold mandatory public consultations, before implementing changes to their night flight paths and frequency of departures.

Surrey Councillor Judy Villeneuve has thrown her support behind Jenkins and told the Peace Arch News:

What it does is put pressure, I believe, on the federal government, on Transportation Canada and Nav Canada to be more responsible to the public.

Local MP Russ Hiebert weighed into the debate by stating:

It would be irresponsible to stake a claim without hearing all the evidence.

They (residents) asked for public consultation, and they got that as well. Are things perfect? No, they’re not. But from the constituents that are living in the area, things are definitely quieter than they were. We have to acknowledge the progress that’s been made.

Surrey's Mayor also endorsed the motion and hopes it gets passed as soon as possible. As a result, you can anticipate that every major airport in Canada will be watching where this resolution ends up in the coming months.

- Post by Daniel


I'd like the dairy farm I just moved beside to cut down on fertilization in the summer months. And I sure wish the bar that was here before me would quiet down on the weekends.

Maybe we can ask the Transportation Minister to monitor highway traffic and filter the loud trucks.

Well there's a huge difference between moving near YVR and complaining about the noise, vs. moving somewhere else in Richmond for example, that was relatively quiet. Then YVR adds a runway and makes some flight path changes, and all of the sudden there are planes over your house from 5am to 1am 365 days a year.

That being said, I think the easy answer for YVR is takeoffs and landings over the water.

As a side note, spend a few minutes in Burkeville, a neighbourhood on Sea Island. It's like something out of Seinfeld. Every 5 mins you have to stop a conversation for 30 seconds, if you're outdoors.

not only consult but the politicians must approve these changes. Right now, Canadian airports act with impunity and can seriously affect the quality of life for affected residents. This proposal could well affect airport growth plans, but that is too darned bad. Nothing worse than all of a sudden being on a changed flight path

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