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COPA reminds township about federal jurisdiction

By Kevin Psutka

 

I was recently contacted by a few COPA members who have cottages in the Township of Archipelago near Parry Sound, Ontario, where a public consultation meeting was called to address proposed bylaw changes that aimed at controlling aircraft, and in particular floatplanes, in the Township.

I asked Directors Doug Ronan and Marc Charron to help by doing some research and attending the meeting for COPA because the Township is located in Marc’s region and Doug is also President of the Ontario Seaplane Pilots Association (which is also a COPA Flight).

The proposed bylaw change introduced a calculation for total lot coverage by structures that included hangars. In searching for background for the change, we discovered documents indicating the Township also wants to limit aviation because of unsubstantiated safety concerns.

The proposed changes have two implications. First, any landowner with a hanger on their property could have their potential residence footprint reduced because of this structure or construction of a hangar could be denied because of the lot coverage bylaw.

Secondly, any property with an aerodrome designation would have incurred additional and punitive permitting and development fees.

At the meeting, Township officials were reminded that, in Canada, aerodromes and their support infrastructure such as hangars fall under Federal jurisdiction and cannot be regulated by either a Municipality or a Province. Also, they were reminded that aviation safety is the responsibility of the Federal Minister of Transport.

There was some indication from the officials that it was not their intention to curtail aviation but rather to prevent abuse by some property owners who claim that a boathouse is a hangar in an attempt to circumvent the lot coverage calculations. We suggested that this issue could best be handled by enforcing the existing bylaws instead of creating new ones that would capture aviation.

The officials heard presentations from over a dozen people who are opposed to the proposed bylaw changes while no one presented in favor.

The Council reserved their decision for a later date and COPA will be monitoring this closely. Should they proceed with the bylaw and attempt to interfere with aviation, this may be a case for COPA’s Special Action Fund. Member donations to this fund provides resources to, in this example, pay the expenses to attend meetings and, if necessary, go to court to defend our right to have an aerodrome and buildings associated with it.

COPA’s Special Action Fund was implemented to safeguard the rights and freedoms of its members to fly in Canada. The knowledge that there exists a fund with over a million dollars in reserve to fight Governments and organizations that would challenge those freedoms, goes a long way to deter inappropriate undertakings.

It is important that aviators in Canada recognize the advocacy value of the Special Action Fund and contribute to it. Details on how to contribute can be found on our website: www.copanational.org.