Yes, it's a big subject and there isn't enough time today to cover all the issues around CENAC, but I will talk about the reference panel that's been mentioned.
Imagine, if you will, that you've been working on these noise issues for seven years. There are many constituents right across the GTA who have spent time and effort to work on this. We work day and night. For some of us, it became a full-time job. When we start to see some kind of political action, we thank our representatives for it, because, frankly, that's what it took. Before political action, there was no movement.
We find out, however, that recommendations from the Helios report, the GTAA part of it, are going to be referred to a new panel that's going to be set up with 36 members who are going to be randomly selected across Toronto. They're going to be given four days of training and orientation. Now, they are fine people, I'm sure, with the very best of intentions, but they don't have any background information. We are asked to go and present to them for half an hour or an hour, and I think three or four other groups are asked to go as well.
Well, you sit back and you think to yourself that if they really wanted a reference panel that was going to have good recommendations and a real understanding of the issues they were tasked with commenting on, they would go to groups that have been involved in this for many years, groups that have educated themselves on the separate language, what you might call “aviation language”, and on issues of concern in airports worldwide. They would at least put members from those committees on the panel, and then they might do some random selection of other people...but four days? One of those days, I believe, involved orienting them with the airport, visiting the towers. This is not real consultation.
When the word “consultation” is thrown around, what we've found over the years is that it's not real consultation. It's consultation with predetermined answers. We've all been there. We've all been to organizations that do this. They know what they want. They consult about that particular subject matter, and then they staff the tables—as I understand they actually did—with industry experts. What are these good-hearted people going to come up with in terms of recommendations?
They send out a survey across Toronto. Again, I spoke with the group hired to facilitate and they told me directly—I have this on record—that the GTAA designed this survey themselves and this consultative group was only there to carry out and facilitate. Those questions were all moving towards predetermined answers. This was theoretically a massive consultation and a group of people who were used to come up with recommendations on runway utilization, for instance. Well, runway utilization is a complicated thing. It's not as simple as it might sound. Where are the crossover points? How will this affect other people? When you talk about “predictable noise respite”, what does that look like? That's how we ended up with alternating east and west runways on alternate weekends, and deluging people, who were already deluged, with additional traffic on those weekends.
Therefore, when we talk about consultation, we have to be clear that it's meaningful consultation, and meaningful consultation, in our estimation, has been excessively hard to come by, other than the Helios report.