MEH sends letter to Transport Canada over helicopter complaints

BELNAN: The Municipality of East Hants (MEH) has sent a letter to Transport Canada after noise being heard by local residents left many annoyed in the Belnan area because of aerial work.

In the letter, dated Sept. 28, Warden Jim Smith wrote federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau with the concerns.

The Municipality of East Hants is writing to emphasize the need for consultation with municipalities when permitting Aerial Work under the Aeronautics Act and Canada Aviation Regulations in residential and agricultural areas of Canada

outside of towns and cities,” said Smith.

Smith said amendments that were made to the Canadian Aviation Regulations and brought into effect on January 1, 2017 do not go far enough.

“As stated on the Transport Canada Website, the amendments require aerodrome proponents to consult with stakeholders before developing an aerodrome or significantly changing an existing one,” he explained. “Stakeholders should include local citizens, municipalities, local aerodrome operators, air navigation service providers, and Transport Canada.”

MEH is requesting amendments be extended to require consultation for aerial work that could potentially cause a nuisance to surrounding property owners.

“East Hants is in a situation where Vision Air Services Limited has been permitted to complete aerial work, but the activity is having a negative impact on surrounding property owners,” said Smith in the signed letter, posted on MEH’s website. “Helicopter training to instruct pilots on how to maneuver and install power poles is taking place. Although the work is important, it is taking place in a residential and agricultural area where the quality of life of neighbouring property owners is being negatively impacted and agricultural land owners are having issues with their animals. Many complaints have been received by the municipality.

“The municipality requests that further amendments to the Act be considered that require consultation with municipalities by proponents of potentially nuisance aerial activity. Municipalities are in a strong position to advise on possible conflicts and would be left in a better position to inform and respond to concerns of residents.

In addition to the above recommendation, MEH requested Transport Canada review what constitutes a built-up area.

“Although, our residential and agricultural areas do not have the density of a town or city, we would argue that the aerial work does negatively impact property owners in these areas,” said Smith. “Therefore, the definition of areas requiring Ministerial approval needs to take into consideration the land-use pattern in the area of aerial work and not simply based on a built-up area on the boundaries of a town or city.”

Smith said MEH urged Garneau and Transport Canada to seriously take into consideration the proposed recommendations in the letter.

“We request that Transport Canada staff review the situation taking place in East Hants and how amendments to the Aeronautics Act and Canadian Aviation Regulations could improve our current position,” said Smith.