Evidence of meeting #122 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was airport.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sheri Benson  Saskatoon West, NDP
Pam Damoff  Oakville North—Burlington, Lib.
Matt Jeneroux  Edmonton Riverbend, CPC
Michael Keenan  Deputy Minister, Department of Transport
Sheilagh Murphy  Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Economic Development, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Jeff Knoll  Town and Regional Councillor, Town of Oakville and Regional Municipality of Halton, Halton Region
Hillary Marshall  Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority
Sandra Best  Chair, Toronto Aviation Noise Group
Renee Jacoby  Founding Chair, Toronto Aviation Noise Group
Robyn Connelly  Director, Community Relations, Greater Toronto Airports Authority
Arif Virani  Parkdale—High Park, Lib.
Robert Oliphant  Don Valley West, Lib.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Madam Chair, I will just finish by saying that there are 67 projects in Mississauga for over $97 million.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

We would appreciate if that could be submitted to the committee.

We have one minute left, and Mr. Liepert has a question before the minister has to go to a cabinet meeting. You have one minute before he has to leave.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

I wanted to conclude by tying a bow around this Liberal environmental plan.

In your words, we exempt the small airlines from a carbon tax because their profit margins are slim. We will put a carbon tax on the large airlines. We will also put a carbon tax on small businesses, even though their profits are slim, but we will exempt 90% of large emitters because, in the words of the parliamentary secretary, they would leave Canada if we put a carbon tax on because it would be a job killer. Then we use Stephen Harper's emissions targets.

That's the Liberal environmental plan as I can see it. That doesn't scare me very much. What does scare me is this: I would like to know if you or your department did an impact assessment on what a carbon tax would do to the transportation, and the business community relying on transportation, as part of the discussion leading up to the carbon tax.

If you did, would you table it with this committee? If you did not, will you admit that you just rolled over and played dead to the environment minister, who's running energy, who's running transportation and who's running this government today?

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you, Mr. Liepert.

November 27th, 2018 / 9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Mr. Liepert, I know you're trying to make a point here, but I also have to say that the only thing Mr. Harper had was some numbers. He actually didn't have a plan—

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

It was his targets—

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

He didn't have a plan—

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

You're using his emission targets, Minister—

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Give the minister the opportunity to answer, please.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

He didn't have a plan behind it. I would urge you again to provide that plan.

Secondly, there are two components on airlines. One is internal, where we're talking about a price on pollution. There is also the international component, which is done through ICAO. Canada has taken a significant lead there, because international travel is not under the Canadian budget for greenhouse gases.

Canada has taken the lead there because 2% of greenhouse gases on the planet come from international air travel. I'm very proud of the role Canada has taken there, with sign-on by other nations to take a responsibility for the production of greenhouse gases.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much, Minister Garneau, especially for giving us 90 minutes of your time, along with your officials. I know you have to go to a cabinet meeting, so please feel free to leave at this point.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Thank you.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Pursuant to Standing Order 81(5), the committee will now dispose of the supplementary estimates (A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019 under Transport Canada. These are vote 1a under Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, vote 1a under Canadian Transportation Agency, and votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 15a, and 20a under Department of Transport.

Do I have unanimous consent to deal with all the votes in one motion?

9:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

CANADIAN AIR TRANSPORT SECURITY AUTHORITY

Vote 1a—Payments to the Authority for operating and capital expenditures..........$36,038,397

(Vote 1a agreed to on division)

CANADIAN TRANSPORTATION AGENCY

Vote 1a—Program expenditures..........$1,671,892

(Vote 1a agreed to on division)

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Vote 1a—Operating expenditures..........$10,927,693

Vote 5a—Capital expenditures..........$1,438,265

Vote 10a—Grants and contributions—Efficient transportation system..........$6,049,065

Vote 15a—Grants and contributions—Green and innovative transportation system..........$3,131,670

Vote 20a—Grants and contributions—Safe and secure transportation system..........$10,549,935

(Votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 15a and 20a agreed to on division)

Shall I report these votes to the House?

9:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you all very much.

Thank you to the departmental officials for being here.

We will now suspend for a few minutes so we can have our other witnesses come to the table.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

I'll call the meeting back to order.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are doing a study on assessing the impact of aircraft noise in the vicinity of major Canadian airports.

Welcome to the witnesses. Thank you for being here. At least the weather co-operated enough to get you here. Whether you'll get home or not, who knows, but at least you got here.

From Halton region, we have Jeff Knoll, councillor from the town of Oakville and the regional municipality of Halton.

From the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, we have Hillary Marshall, vice-president of stakeholder relations and communications; Michael Belanger, director of aviation programs and compliance; and Robyn Connelly, director of community relations.

From the Toronto Aviation Noise Group, we have Renee Jacoby, the founding chair, and Sandra Best, the current chair.

Mr. Knoll, we'll start with you. Please limit your comments to five minutes, because the committee always has lots of questions. Thank you.

9:40 a.m.

Jeff Knoll Town and Regional Councillor, Town of Oakville and Regional Municipality of Halton, Halton Region

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you at this standing committee today. My name is Jeff Knoll, and I appear as a long-standing member of the town of Oakville and regional councils, representing the people of ward 5. I also serve as the Halton appointee on the GTAA's Community Environment and Noise Advisory Committee, known as CENAC.

Through my work on that committee, I am highly engaged on the issue of aircraft noise and the resulting impacts on the residents of Halton. As you may know, Halton region comprises the city of Burlington and the towns of Halton Hills, Oakville and Milton. We are a growing community with a population of over 548,000 people, located a mere 15 kilometres to the west of Toronto Pearson Airport.

We acknowledge Pearson's role as an economic engine and the international gateway that links Canadians to the world stage. Each day, thousands of Halton residents travel to Pearson to go to work and to travel for business and pleasure.

However, as an elected municipal official whose constituency is deeply affected by aircraft noise, I am here before you to contend that we have not achieved the proper balance between the ongoing operations of Pearson, its future growth plans and the resulting impacts on Halton residents.

I further contend that aircraft noise is highly detrimental to the well-being of Halton residents. I hear this consistently from residents in my ward and throughout the region.

Recently, as I knocked on doors and spoke to my constituents during this fall's municipal election, we often had to pause our conversations as aircraft shrieked overhead. No other words were necessary at that point, because one of the key issues in my ward was flying right above us.

Some might say that these residents should have considered this when choosing to live in a community under a flight path. In the case of north Oakville, it was not on a flight path until merely six years ago. The changes to the downwind leg, the incessant low and slow overflights, and the resulting noise and nuisance were imposed on these established neighbourhoods as a result of Nav Canada's 2012 flight path changes—changes, I might add, that were made with no consultation and virtually no notice.

I should note that the noise complaints that elected officials are receiving are coming from all across the Halton community. Recently, I was invited to speak at an aircraft noise meeting in Milton. We watched incredulously as one aircraft after another flew over and shook the little community centre to make a final noisy descent into the airport, as if to punctuate the very purpose of the gathering.

Aircraft noise in Halton is disrupting the ability of our residents to go outside and use their backyards, to enjoy our parks and our hiking trails, to talk with their neighbours, to get a full night's sleep. In short, aircraft noise is compromising our residents' quality of life.

I must acknowledge that there have been some positive engagements on this issue over the past few years, including three major studies by the GTAA and Nav Canada. However, while appreciative of this engagement, residents are not satisfied with the pace of implementation of the proposed mitigating measures coming out of these studies. Residents want and need relief today, especially as the airport looks to become a super hub to serve a projected 85 million passengers in 2037, up from 47 million today.

My time today is very limited, so I will submit additional written comments and suggestions to your committee, but I want to raise one last issue before I conclude.

The GTAA is engaged with regional airports in southern Ontario with the objective of solidifying Pearson's role as the main international hub, with regional airports providing complementary passenger and cargo services. While a potentially positive goal, it does raise the question of whether the proper jurisdictional partners, accountability structure, and incentives are in place to ensure that the GTAA adequately brings aircraft noise into the equation along with Pearson's economic interests.

We need the engagement of all levels of government, potentially with Transport Canada playing the lead role, to help in the long-term planning and routing among airports in southern Ontario, a process that needs to focus on a triple bottom line of social responsibility, economic value and environmental impact.

Furthermore, I would like to suggest that it is time for the government to consider a second major airport in the GTA, potentially making use of the Pickering lands that were assembled for this very purpose over 50 years ago. Such an initiative would spread the aircraft and vehicular traffic, as well as the economic development benefits, to the eastern GTA.

Madam Chair, as elected officials we are constantly challenged to find the proper balance between sometimes inherently opposite interests. In the case of Toronto Pearson, Canada's largest airport and the surrounding communities, we're in a situation where we're not achieving the balance between the economic imperatives at Pearson and the impacts of aircraft noise on our community. If we can't achieve that balance, we're at a real risk of seeing the continued and permanent erosion of the quality of life in Halton and across Canada, a prospect that does not serve the interests of governments at any level.

Thank you for your time.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much, Mr. Knoll.

Ms. Marshall, you have five minutes, please.

9:45 a.m.

Hillary Marshall Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Madam Chair and committee members, good morning.

I'm Hillary Marshall, vice-president of stakeholder relations and communications for the GTAA. With me is Robyn Connelly, the director of community relations—her office manages noise programs—and Mike Belanger, director of aviation programs and compliance.

Thanks for the opportunity to present today and for the work the committee is undertaking to understand the impact of noise. The GTAA shares this goal.

Toronto Pearson is working towards a bold vision: to be the best airport in the world. Today, we're the fifth most connected airport in the world, and we play a vital role in connecting Canadian cities to each other and the world. One in five Canadians uses Toronto Pearson for air travel today. Because of our connectivity, we believe that being the best airport in the world starts closer to home, working hand in hand with our community and in lockstep with our aviation partners and industry experts.

Today, I'd like to tell you about a few of the initiatives that we've developed in collaboration with our community and industry partners.

Every five years, we develop a noise management action plan, which lays out how we will address noise over a five-year cycle. In our previous noise management action plan, we accomplished the following. We removed the 10-nautical-mile boundary that limited where we would accept noise complaints from; this initiative in particular was pushed forward by Councillor Knoll of Oakville, whom you just heard from, and he also pushed to expand the committee membership to include the regions of York, Durham and Halton. We also undertook a review of the locations of our system of noise monitoring terminals and added eight more for a total of 25.

Our 2018-22 noise management action plan is even more ambitious. It has 10 commitments that will make Toronto Pearson a leader in aviation noise management. We created this plan following an international best practices study of 26 comparator airports around the world. The study was conducted for us by Helios, whom you will hear from at a later date, I understand. Additionally, we engaged more than 3,000 residents to help shape the plan by giving us their input through workshops, and we assembled a resident-led reference panel specifically to provide input on noise and airport growth. This plan has been well received by the community and resident groups, and we're now taking action to implement the plan. As part of our implementation, we're continuing to update our community and resident partners, as well as our elected officials.

A key initiative of our plan is the quieter fleet incentive program, which targets noise from aircraft. The A320 family of aircraft has a high-pitched whine related to air intake. This can be eliminated with a simple retrofit. Airlines around the world, such as Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways and easyJet, have already made this change. We've written and engaged with our carriers to ask for their support and to advise them that we are moving ahead with an incentive program in 2020. We continue to work with our airline partners to make this happen as soon as possible.

In 2015, we started working with NavCan to develop what has become known as the “Six Ideas”, specifically designed to reduce noise in our adjacent communities. A description of these six ideas has been provided to you, but I'd like to take a moment to highlight a few of them.

Ideas 1 and 2 were implemented on November 8 by Nav Canada. These are new nighttime flight paths for approaching and departing aircraft. Idea 5 involves alternating east and west runway use on weekends to provide some predictable respite for communities on the final approach or initial departure. This program was tested this past summer. We're examining the results, and we look forward to making those results public shortly.

Following the guidelines of the airspace change communications and consultation protocol, our community partners were involved at every stage of this three-year study. In the last year alone, we reached out to 2.9 million residents via print ads, had 250,000 online views and connected with 160,000 people by phone. About 1,000 people participated directly in surveys. We also met with elected officials throughout the process to ensure that they had information in order to respond to community questions and concerns.

We're seeing positive impacts and also a positive response from the community. In addition to working with our community and industry partners, we have also engaged with experts in the field of noise management and annoyance to guide our work. We're working with the University of Windsor to understand noise annoyance. The committee heard earlier from Professor Novak and Ph.D. student Julia Jovanovic. We are supporting their research to better understand how the community experiences noise effects and how we can work better to mitigate that. We also engaged Helios to be our technical consultant on the delivery of our five-year noise management action plan. Its role is to help us ensure that we're finding responsible and innovative solutions based on international best practices.

In closing, Toronto Pearson is continually looking for ways to manage its noise and annoyance. We do this by balancing our commitment to our neighbours with the pursuit of our vision of making Toronto Pearson the best airport in the world. In 2017, we served more than 47 million passengers and directly employed nearly 50,000 people at our airport. We have the second-largest employment zone in the country, and the airport facilitates more than 6% of Ontario's GDP.

Toronto Pearson's growth is important to future jobs and economic development. We know that it cannot be done without the help of our neighbours and partners. We're working hard to find a way that we can all grow and prosper together.

Thanks again for the opportunity to represent the airport. I look forward to your questions.

9:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

We'll go on to Ms. Best for five minutes.

9:55 a.m.

Sandra Best Chair, Toronto Aviation Noise Group

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee.

I'm Sandra Best. I'm chair of the Toronto Aviation Noise Group, TANG, established in 2012 in response to Nav Canada's airspace redesign implemented at Toronto Pearson in February of that year.

I am joined today by my colleague, founding co-chair Renee Jacoby.

We are a facts-based, multi-community residents group committed to finding fair, safe and equitable solutions.

I live in High Park, Toronto, and my colleague lives in midtown Toronto, so you're probably asking yourselves why we are addressing your committee.

Well, we are here to dispel the myth that aviation noise is limited to the communities in the vicinity of airports. Imagine, if you will, that you wake up one morning in your relatively quiet neighbourhood, as far as 20 kilometres from the airport, to the torturous sound of low-altitude airplanes deploying their flaps and screeching their brakes directly overhead—it's not “annoyance”.

You call the airport and learn from the noise management office that you now live under what we at TANG affectionately term a “super highway in the sky”, and you can't register a noise complaint because you live outside the radius for reporting. Even with improvements made to date, residents are fatigued, and many have simply given up on using the process.

Imagine the shock you feel when you find out that there was little or no consultation and your elected representatives knew nothing about it: from no aircraft one day to more than 88,000 flights per year in 2017 on our runway alone, which does not include either arrivals crossing en route to other runways or departures. The data in our briefing materials speak for themselves: high flight volumes, high noise monitor readings and disproportionate runway utilization.

You are further shocked when you become aware of the deregulation in 1996 of our air navigation services to Nav Canada, a private company. There was no legislated protocol to challenge the decision made in 2012, and being asked to attend ineffective meetings of the Community Engagement and Noise Advisory Committee, or CENAC, to solve problems at the local level yielded no meaningful change.

What has been achieved to date?

There was the voluntary communications and consultation protocol in June 2015, which we believe must be amended and legislated.

There was the Helios report, the independent Toronto air space review. We commend Nav Canada for commissioning it, as it has built bridges with stakeholders and created dialogue and discussion. We support much of the work carried out by Helios, and we collaborated with them throughout the process. However, we were disappointed that the GTAA, in an attempt to appear more consultative, formed a widely panned reference review panel and deferred better runway utilization to them, among other things.

Also recommended was the restructuring of CENAC, and we understand that the GTAA is about to unveil their new look next month. We haven't been privy to the deliberations involved, but we are cautiously optimistic about the results.

When TANG first engaged with both the GTAA and Nav Canada, public relations were atrocious. Concerns were summarily dismissed and information difficult to obtain. It was very clear that airlines were the customers and that citizens living under aviation routes were an afterthought. We have seen positive changes within Nav Canada in the last two years and more willingness to work with community groups. In particular, we commend Blake Cushnie for his commitment to the process.

However, these changes did not come about voluntarily but as a result of years of hard work and lobbying by members of the general public. Therefore, we continue to believe that consistent, active and objective government oversight of Nav Canada is critical.

There is still much to be done. Pearson projections estimate total movements in excess of 600,000 by 2037, which means that arrivals on our runway alone would increase to a staggering 120,000 per year. Clearly, this is untenable.

Our recommendations are in your briefing materials. We ask that you take these into consideration. In particular, we ask for acceleration of the retrofit of the Airbus A320s and the adoption of the Helios recommendations with regard to night flights.

We believe that Toronto is one of the great livable cities of the world, and we support its economic development. However, as Canadians, we pride ourselves on our belief in justice and fairness, and it is neither just nor fair to ask some communities to bear the burden of concentrated aviation noise while absolving others. Solutions simply must be found.

We invite your questions, and we look forward to the results and recommendations of the study and the minister's response.

Thank you again for this opportunity. It's deeply appreciated.

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

We'll go to Mrs. Block for five minutes.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

My first question will be for TANG.

Could you tell me if your organization has developed a proposal for how airport authorities should balance the concerns of communities surrounding night flights with the economic benefits offered by these flights?