Canadian Airport Projects Threatened: COPA

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The Canadian government is considering law changes that could give local and provincial jurisdictions a say in airport construction or expansion projects, according to the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association President Kevin Psutka. In a letter to members, Psutka said the proposed changes to the Aeronautics Act are so far ambiguous but could chip away at the federal government's sole jurisdiction over aviation infrastructure. He said the feds want to move to "participatory decision making" involving local consultation on airport development. That already happens in the case of certified public use airports but the government wants to extend the process to non-certified airport projects, including strips on private land.

Psutka said local politicians rarely consider the national interest and will bow to local pressure if given the chance to influence the airport approval process. He said local governments have lobbied the federal government for the changes after conflict over some private airstrips and the development of airstrips serving Alberta's oil industry. There have been many attempts by local and provincial governments to block airport projects but the federal government has sole jurisdiction and has enforced it repeatedly. Psutka said the rulemaking process will take three years and COPA will be keeping close tabs on it.