- By Meg Brown, City of Vancouver Citizens Representative to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) Noise Management Committee and (Dunbar Residents Association (DRA) member
In December 2006, the YVR Noise Management Committee learned that NavCanada, the Crown Corporation that provides air traffic control for Canadian airspace and air-ports, planned, as part of their reorganisation of the Van-couver area airspace, to begin using the North Runway for 20% of all YVR departures starting mid-May 2007. They proposed that all north-bound departures use the North Runway.
The resulting noise impact of this enormous in-crease on Vancouver’s South Slope communities, including Dunbar, will be huge. At 20%, the number of North Runway departures would climb to 27,000 per year. This compares with 1,769 North Runway departures in 2006 (or 1.3% of the total 2006 departures) and with slightly larger percentages and numbers during the busy summer months of prior years.
NavCanada’s proposed blanket use would not comply with the Minister of Transport 1992 directive to minimise departure noise from the North Runway on Vancouver’s South Slope. The Minister stated, “Transport Canada is prepared to operate the new runway primarily as an arrival runway, but may need to use it for departures when traffic demand approaches capacity limits at YVR, such as during peak times.”
Consequently, we sent written requests to both YVR and NavCanada to abide by the 1992 directive. When written responses were not forthcoming by late April, we notified Vancouver City Council, the Minister of Transport, and the various community associations along the South Slope of the situation and of our concerns.
So far, we have received written responses from YVR stating they will abide by the Minister’s directive limiting North Runway departures to periods only when they are “at capacity,” and from the Office of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities stating the “decision on when aircraft departures from the North Runway are required rests with VIAA (i.e. YVR) management.” The Ministry, however, did not reply to our request for monitoring. We have not yet received a response from NavCanada with whom the 20% plan originated.
As in prior years, North Runway departures will begin when the airlines' busier summer schedules take effect. Only time and observation will show how intensely Nav Canada chooses to use the North Runway for departures in the daily 7 am–7 pm window set by YVR for the summer months.
Those who have followed the status of the North Runway since it was approved, may find it inter-esting to learn that YVR consistently reports ever larger increases in the number of passengers, while annual air traffic movements (total number of aircraft departures and arrivals) have increased only 1.1% since 1995, when YVR was operating with one main runway and the short cross runway.
For additional information you can learn more at YVR’s website <www.yvr.ca>. There, under Latest Information, North Runway Departures, YVR provides an overview of their summer plans and at North Runway Operations a detailed discussion of their intentions. I can be contacted at <email@example.com>.
—Dunbar Residents’ Association (DRA) Newsletter