COPA’s member-donated Special Action Fund www.copanational.org/non-members/fund.htm has been hard at work in Quebec.
We are pleased to report that in the Laferriere-Gervais case, the Court of Appeal overturned an order from the Commission de Protection du Territoire Agricole (CPTAQ) who ordered Appellants Bernard Laferrière and Sylvie Gervais to stop the operation of the aerodrome that they had created on their property and the demolition of the hangar where they stored and maintained their aircraft.
The Court declared that the "Act Respecting the Preservation of Agricultural Land and Agricultural Activities" R.S.Q. chapter P-41.1 is not applicable to aeronautical activities. The Court relying on past and recent Supreme Court decisions restated the exclusive federal jurisdiction in matter of aeronautics including the location of airports and aerodromes, and reiterated that provincial and municipal planning and zoning legislation does not apply to airports.
The Court of Appeal therefore reversed its 1990 decision in the Berthier St Louis case which was the basis for the previous decisions in the Laferrière-Gervais case.
Basing its decision on many decisions elsewhere in Canada, including ones in which COPA was involved; the Court of Appeal reasserted the exclusive federal jurisdiction over aeronautics and particularly the essential link between all types of aerodromes and aeronautics.
Of national importance is the Quebec Court of Appeal revised its past position with regards to the Act Respecting the Preservation of Agricultural Land and Agricultural Activities, based on an extensive review of past and recent Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence as well a number of Ontario Court of Appeal decisions.
The Court stated clearly that provincial zoning legislation cannot regulate the location of airports within the province, only the federal authority has that power. The Court asserts that this exclusive federal competence implies the responsibility to harmonize the development of aviation with the protection of agricultural activities as well as greater territorial planning ("les grandes orientations d’usage du territoire"), but affirms that nonetheless, there is only one authority to reconcile these various objectives in such matters, and that is the federal authority.
In a parallel judgement, in which COPA also had Intervenor status, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Quebec Superior Court forcing Air Mauricie to stop its commercial operation at Lac Gobeil following an injunction request of the Municipality of Sacre-Coeur.
Although the issue was different, the principles were the same and the same arguments were used to overturn the previous decision.
These achievements would not have occurred without COPA intervening and this was only made possible because of the Special Action Fund. A great battle is won but this doesn’t mean that the war is over. The opponents can still petition the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal and if this occurs, COPA’s Special Action Fund will again be used to support the effort.
The Fund has been significantly depleted in the effort to date. Now more than ever it is important to contribute to the fund (Donation form: www.copanational.org/non-members/fund.htm) in order to ensure that money remains available for this and other cases where our freedom to fly is challenged.
For members who have aerodromes that have been challenged by the CPTAQ, our advice does not change. COPA has chosen these cases to establish the federal jurisdiction principle.
The Special Action Fund does not have the capacity to chase each and every challenge. Therefore, until the results of an appeal (if any) are known, members are on their own to decide whether to legally challenge or comply with any orders in place from the CPTAQ.