CommunityAIR – working towards a clean, green waterfront
For Immediate Release Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Contact: Brian Iler, Chair
416-598-0544 (work direct)
While it is a bit of a surprise that Transport Canada still persists in its Pickering Airport fantasy (after being stopped for, now, over 40 years by determined community opposition), its recently released draft regulation contains this:
A person must not use, or permit another person to use, any of the lands described in Part 7 of the schedule for activities or uses that attract wildlife — particularly birds — that may create a hazard for aviation safety.
As the community organization opposing that Airport, Land over Landings, notes in its compelling research report Protecting Farming and a National Wildlife Sanctuary vs. Controlling Wildlife in an Airport Wildlife Hazard Zone: A Circle That Can Never Be Squared, the Wildlife Hazard Zone described in that Part 7 encompasses
- all the Federal Lands that will be included in the Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP) – thus overriding Parks Canada`s mandate to maintain and protect all ecosystems in as natural a state as possible inside the Park.2 (The agency’s default is the protection of all wildlife inside the RNUP.)
- vast expanses of farmland, watersheds, and natural habitat well outside the RNUP boundary.
By contrast, the existing Transport Canada Regulations for the Toronto Island Airport contain no reference to such a Wildlife Hazard Zone. This section is the entire provision addressing birds’ presence in the vicinity:
No owner or occupier of any land to which these Regulations apply shall permit that land or any part of it to be used for the disposal of any waste that is edible by or attractive to birds.
The Research Report includes this illustration of the huge Category A Risk Zone contemplated for Pickering Airport – Category A is described as presenting risk of catastrophic loss, measured as either the complete loss of the aircraft or the loss of more than one life as a consequence of a bird strike event.
Land Over Landings, in its report, notes the incongruity of the position Transport Canada takes on Pickering when Toronto’s Island Airport has no similar constraints on it:
“Look at Billy Bishop Airport, which is less than 4 km away from the Leslie Street Spit, a location with over 100,000 breeding birds that rank high on the hazard list, and it is already an approved airport!!”
CommunityAIR asks Transport Canada to explain its differential treatment.
Why is the presence of thousands of the large birds on Toronto’s waterfront ignored, when severe constraints on wildlife are insisted upon for the proposed Pickering Airport?
Can it be that Transport Canada is ignoring safety issues at the Island Airport for political reasons?
Or, will drastic measures to curb Toronto waterfront wild fowl be taken, especially if PorterPlans’ CS100 jets are permitted?
These jets have 73” diameter engine intakes, and have far less capacity to cope with large birds, as Porter’s Robert Deluce has noted:
“Mr. Deluce said the risk Porter faces from bird strikes is reduced by the type of aircraft it flies. “We’re using turboprops,” he said. “They handle bird strikes better than jets.”
Here’s how authorities addressed birds in New York City after the “‘Miracle on the Hudson”:
“…After Capt. Sullenberger’s near catastrophic collision with the Hudson River on Flight 1549, New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg told the Wall Street Journal,
‘Look, the Department of Agriculture has to deal with the fact that all these geese are a danger to people flying. People are not going to stop flying and we have to make a decision. It’s geese or human beings. And I can tell you where I come out on that.’…
“…Now early each summer teams of USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] goose catchers, paid by local governments, scour municipal properties in a 450-squaremile area [an area nearly twice the size of Metro Toronto] encompassing the airports. At that time of year the geese are molting and can’t fly. Once located, they and their offspring are easy to snag. They’re then taken to slaughterhouses and quickly dispatched…”
Does Transport Canada have similar plans for Toronto’s waterfront?