Comox Valley Regional District asking for Aeronautics Act review

The regional district approved a motion from Area B director Jim Gillis to request a review of the Canadian Aeronautics Act.

The regional district committee of the whole approved Tuesday a motion from Area B director Jim Gillis to request the Union of B.C. Municipalities, with Transport Canada, to review the Canadian Aeronautics Act to implement airport zoning that would more accurately reflect modern navigation systems.

The motion stems from “two surprises” concerning the proposed regional hospital and nesting trees in the vicinity of the airport, Gillis said.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority originally proposed to construct the hospital on Ryan Road near Crown Isle.

However, the Department of National Defence said it fell within an area around CFB Comox and the airport that restricts the height of structures to fewer than nine metres.

Transport Canada and DND also maintain a tall stand of trees near the airport need to be removed because they pose a safety hazard to low-flying aircraft. The trees are nesting spots to eagles and blue herons.

Gillis takes issue with the fact that the Canadian Aeronautics Act is more than 30 years old, since which there have been improvements in global positioning systems and aircraft navigation but no review of airport zoning.

Gillis — noting Penticton also has issues with height restrictions that deem buildings illegal — wants to ensure the airport is fully conducive to bringing people to the Valley.

“It’s absolutely vital we ensure aircraft come into the community,” said Gillis, who feels more information is needed to better serve incoming aircraft in terms of height restrictions, setbacks and other factors.

Courtenay director Jon Ambler calls the airport the “economic heart of the Comox Valley.” He favours petitioning senior levels of government, as long as actions are taken to keep the airport functioning at the highest level necessary. A plane unable to land due to large trees, for example, would be a “total loss of customers.”

The committee recommended submitting Gillis’ resolution to the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities for consideration at its next convention.

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The committee recommends $1,000 from the recreation grant service be granted to the Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society for a winter program dubbed Bowling for the Homeless.

Building on the success of Soccer for the Homeless, the program intends to engage newly and nearly housed individuals.

“Coming in from the cold takes more than just a room and furnishing; it requires socialization and supports for the transition,” Dawn to Dawn director Joline Martin said in a letter to the board. “Most of our folks in this transition phase need to rediscover themselves by finding alternate activities that promote clean and sober living.”

Money will be used for equipment rental, transportation, snacks and other expenses.

The 32-week program will run from late-November until the end of March.

The recreation grant service includes an annual budget of $35,000 to support programs that promote an active community. The Active Comox Valley program has an approximate surplus of $6,000.

Comox Valley Record