Transport Canada responds to noise complaints at Oshawa Airport by sending it back to City


Published February 22, 2023 at 11:15 am

Photo Mubeen Azam

Getting any kind of response from Transport Canada about the excessive noise at the Oshawa Executive Airport has been an exercise in frustration for Oshawa Council.

Oshawa and Whitby residents living near the airport have been complaining of noise – especially from a flight training school that is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit – for many years and Oshawa Council have been telling those residents for at least that long that the authority to regulate activities is out of their control. The City has been quick to also point out that the federal agency responsible for aviation issues has yet to respond to their concerns.

Transport Canada has, in fact, now responded and has effectively passed the onus of responsibility back to the local level. Sau Sau Liu, a Media Services Senior Communications Advisor, said in an email that while there are rules already in place to punish pilots who fly too low or otherwise contravene aviation regulations, noise management issues “are most effectively addressed” at the community level.

“Transport Canada is aware that noise from aircraft can be a concern for communities near airports,” Liu said, in response to a Feb. 15 story – Send your complaints to Transport Canada – from indurham.

While acknowledging noise management is a “complicated and often difficult issue faced by airport authorities and communities,” Liu said it must be managed in a way that aviation safety and flight operations “are not compromised.”

Addressing the issue at the local level has proven to be difficult for Oshawa, now embroiled in a lawsuit with the Canadian Flight Academy that is now before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, with the City’s legal department hopeful a trial can be happen in May. Three-quarters of all flights at the airport are for flight training, the chief sore point among the airport’s neighbours.

In perhaps their strongest language to date Oshawa Council hinted the years may be numbered for the airport, stating in a press release that the City is committed to ensuring “open dialogue” while “we work to fulfill our agreement with the federal government” to operate the airfield until 2047.

“While the Oshawa Executive Airport is a significant asset for economic growth in the City and for Durham Region, the City’s long-term vision is balancing the quality of life of our residents with the economic benefits of the airport.”

Rumblings about excessive noise and of the volume of air traffic have been increasing in recent years (Noise complaints at airport on rise), with six times as many complaints in 2021 than there were a decade before while the actual traffic at the airport has increased only about 25 per cent.

Liu, however, is still encouraging Oshawa, Whitby and airport neighbours to deal with the noise issue themselves, with Transport Canada preferring to deal with matters regarding public safety under the authority of the Aeronautics Act and the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

“Transport Canada’s experience has shown that noise issues are most effectively addressed at the local community level. We encourage airports to continuing working with communities to find a collaborative way to address the issue and find a solution.”

Carter, however, said there are several matters at the airport that are “not within the City’s control.” Noise abatement measures, he noted, are among them and require “final approval” from Transport Canada.

  • In Canada, aircraft are typically not permitted to fly below 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle in a built-up area, or elsewhere, closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure, except during take-off and landing
  • Canadian Aviation Regulations additionally states that aircraft are able to fly at lesser distances, without creating a hazard to persons or property on the ground, when flight training is conducted by or under the supervision of a qualified flight instructor
  • If Transport Canada was to receive a complaint containing enough information to identify the pilot and verify that there was a contravention of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, an administrative monetary penalty may be issued or, depending on the nature and severity of the infraction, the pilot’s license may be suspended
  • Transport Canada publishes a list of corporate offenders and non-corporate offenders on its website, which is updated monthly: Aviation corporate offendersand Aviation non-corporate offenders.
  • If at any time residents suspect that a pilot is operating an aircraft in an unsafe manner, Transport Canada encourages them to record as much information as possible (e.g. date, time, registration number, colour of aircraft, other identifying marks) and provide those details to [email protected]or complete an incident report using the online form:
indurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising