Letters

Comox Valley Airport bizarrely being held hostage

Dear editor,

I vigorously support Carol Arnold's letter (Record, Jan. 23) regarding trees blocking flights.

She clearly articulated her personal travails involving flight delays and cancellations. I have experienced the same delays and cancellations (which lately have been almost daily) and frequently observed the frustration of friends and family who must commute by air to jobs or make connecting flights for business reasons or vacation.

The current long, drawn-out litigation process may be the usual recourse, but surely there must be a way to expedite resolution for this most vexing of issues that holds our entire community hostage. To suggest otherwise is to admit our system is dysfunctional and broken.

The issue is bizarre.

A property owner bordering the landing and takeoff corridor at Comox airport has some tall trees on his/her property. Said property owner refuses to allow removal or topping of these trees, apparently citing concern for nesting birds, and has tied the matter up in prolonged litigation for several years.

The tall trees raise minimum landing height restrictions by several hundred feet in accordance with Transport Canada regulations. This means that service such as WesJet with its regular domestic and international flights to Comox must frequently delay, cancel or divert their flights to where landing minimums are not affected by tall trees.

Friends who work at the airport inform me there is profound concern that if this debacle is not soon resolved, the Comox Valley may lose WestJet and other carriers as early as next fall.

This may please the property owner and handful of supporters who are responsible for this travesty, but it is already causing untold hardship for the hundreds of North Islanders who are inconvenienced each day by delayed or canceled flights.

All of this to protect a few birds, which if displaced will obviously find nesting places elsewhere. The cost in lost wages, missed vacations and canceled trips is incalculable and surely outweighs such environmental concerns (if indeed that is the issue).

We must blame not just the behaviour of whomever is holding the community hostage in the courts, we must also blame our federal government and airport authority for allowing this travesty to continue unresolved.

The federal government and local authority have stood back and allowed the issue to grind on in the courts.

Such complacency and inaction is unacceptable when thousands of people representing not only the Comox Valley, but communities north and south may lose their domestic and international air service that  has taken many years and hundreds of millions of dollars to build. Our leaders such as our MP John Duncan need to be proactively seeking resolution by means of expropriation, ministerial executive order or whatever means necessary.

As a local Conservative supporter, I need to publicly hear from my member of Parliament regarding this issue. Do you condemn this situation, Mr. Duncan, and what are you doing about it?

Win Hunter,

Area B

 

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