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“Neighbor’s Plan to Construct a Runway? Get the Scoop with Breaking:”


Mark Watson says he doesn’t know who put a note in his mailbox last month about a neighbor’s plan to build a runway just half a mile from his yard this summer.

That tip was the first he’d heard of it.

Watson, who has lived on a 10-acre estate in rural Dunrobin in western Ottawa since 2007, may soon be able to live near a 400-foot grass airstrip for general aviation use.

The runway, which is expected to launch by the end of the summer, is being planned by its neighbour, Les Nagy.

Watson said he is concerned about environmental pollution, disruption to his organic hobby farm (“The bees don’t like it”) and the possibility of an emergency landing on Sixth Line Road, a major local thoroughfare.

Neighbors also told CBC they are concerned about how new runways or “aerodromes” are progressing under Transport Canada’s oversight, while municipalities such as the City of Ottawa are watching from the back seat — a situation the area’s councilor Clarke Kelly has called ” a very frustrating realization.”

Neighborhood worries about proposed private airstrip

Mark Watson lives on nearby Berry Side Road and says the process of landing runways feels like “the wild west.”

People in Ottawa need city permits to build decks, but not runways, Watson said

“It feels a bit like the wild west.”

Transport Canada requires runway builders to consult with other residents before starting construction, but communications are “appalling,” according to another neighbor, Mark Hayman.

Hayman, who lives on a side street of Nagy, said he had not been consulted and had only heard of plans through word of mouth.

Runways are common, says landowner

According to provincial land records, Nagy has owned the land in question for more than two years. A two-card board on his fence gives an idea of ​​his plans.

The runway is intended for “very low” monthly use in good weather, he told residents in correspondence obtained by CBC.

Nagy describes himself as an experienced mountain and backcountry pilot of 21, and he recently told Watson that once his airstrip is built, “I would be very surprised if you even heard me.”

Nagy pointed to hovering planes on nearby Lake Constance and two airstrips on a nearby property as examples of “a common occurrence around us every day”.

“I can literally hear the planes taking off from Lake Constance as I write this,” he said via email on Sunday. “Pretending this area is quiet nature is simply not correct.”

message posted on 1881 Sixth Line Road property
This is a sign informing residents of the proposed runway along the fence of the property, as seen on May 25. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The maps attached to Nagy’s message show that the north end of the runway is “pretty close” to Sixth Line Road, said Hayman, whose business partner died in a crash at Carp airport in 2021.

The airport is equipped to handle emergencies, but in a residential area, “making emergency landings becomes a challenge,” he said.

Construction of the Nagy runway is expected to begin in June and take three months to complete, the announcement said, which asked for all comments and questions to be forwarded by phone, email or mail from April 5 to May 20.

Patricia Ganim, who lives down the street, said the sign was small and escaped her notice.

“I drive by there probably four or five times a week,” she said.

the sign on the side of Sixth Line Road
Local resident Patricia Ganim said the sign is unlikely to be noticed by motorists. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Hayman and Watson said Nagy never approached them. Ganim said she received a message in a building (her business premises) next to Nagy’s yard, but not in her house three doors down from Nagy.

Nagy claims he follows all steps defined by Transport Canada.

He declined to be interviewed and has not responded to questions about his consultation process.

He got out to Transport Canada, which CBC referred back to Nagy. Nagy also shared links noting that aerodromes are under federal jurisdiction.

Watson asked Nagy for a tour of the site, but was told in an email viewed by CBC that he was afraid to do so because people were getting a “little bit nasty”.

I’m not looking for consent, but rather to hear concerns and come to a meaningful compromise.– Les Nagy

Nagy told Watson he would answer questions by phone, adding that other residents of Berry Side Road, where Hayman and Watson live, sent approval emails.

“You may want to sync up with your neighbors and dig into the bigger picture a bit,” Nagy wrote.

Nagy also told Watson that he was not “looking for consent” but instead “wanted to hear concerns and come to a meaningful compromise”.

“I will be very sensitive to your right to enjoy your property as I should enjoy mine… and I am willing to accommodate your concerns,” Nagy said.

Patricia Ganim on Sixth Line Road from 1995
Ganim said she fears the runway could erode the value of her home. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

What is known about the aerodrome process

Nagy’s proposal for the airport sheds light on a system criticized for being weighted too heavily toward pilots above municipalities and local residents.

Regulating the approval and location of aerodromes falls “entirely” under federal jurisdiction, the City of Ottawa said in an emailed statement, adding that aerodromes are not subject to municipal zoning.

Airport noise complaints go to Transport Canada, Kelly said. Still, as of May 24, he said he had received emails opposing Nagy’s plan.

An alderman poses for a map.
City Councilman Clarke Kelly called the process “a very frustrating realization as it prevents residents, or the council member, from being able to voice their concerns” about a proposed runway. (Avanthika Anand/CBC)

Kanata-Carleton MP Jenna Sudds said a limited number of people have contacted her to express concerns about Nagy’s runway, so her office has asked him to explain how he will handle them.

The required consultation process has only been in effect for six yearswhich followed earlier conflicts at aerodromes.

Those rules were the first to require advocates to talk to local residents, said Patrick Floyd, a pilot and aviation attorney with knowledge of the Dunrobin area.

Proponents must first “correctly” identify interested parties and stakeholders, a list of municipalities, according to Transport Canada.

On Monday, the city of Ottawa said Nagy had not asked for her input.

“(He is) responsible to Transport Canada for any omissions,” the city said.

Which neighbors should be consulted?

If a project falls within four kilometers of “a built-up area of ​​a town or village”, people living within that same radius should be consulted.

If not, only people whose land borders the project area need be approached, Floyd said of the regulations.

Nagy told Watson that the latter approach was required in his case.

“I live in the city of Ottawa,” Hayman said. “To say that he should only notify his immediate neighbors is, I think, a very narrow interpretation. The reality is that he would overfly all of his neighbors.”

CBC has asked Transport Canada to confirm which bubble applies in Nagy’s case.

Proponents must also place a sign within view of the public.

While proponents may not need to notify everyone, it doesn’t hurt to cast a wide net, Floyd said.

“An incomplete consultation kills because you don’t know what you don’t know,” he said.

mailbox on Sixth Line Road
Sixth Line Road is a main artery in Dunrobin, located in the rural west end of Ottawa. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) has produced “a guide to managing the process‘, which includes a section called ‘Get along with your neighbors’.

COPA said many legal problems can be avoided by taking the time “to educate people” at the beginning of a project.

The association recommends that advocates invite neighbors, but also emphasizes – as Nagy did in his email to Watson – that “you are not asking their permission.”

Once the runway is built, COPA encourages pilots to hold events, host people, and take others for a flight to “show them their homes from the air.”

Proponents are also advised “under no circumstances” to apply for a municipal building permit, as it could deprive them of “protection under federal jurisdiction.”

What happens after the consultation

Advocates are not required to hold a community meeting, which has been an industry concern, Transport Canada listed in 2015.

Once the consultation period has ended, Transport Canada must receive a report describing the plans, outreach efforts, feedback received and how the landowner plans to handle objections.

That report must be made available to any interested party for five years. CBC has asked Nagy for his report and has heard nothing.

While Transport Canada told CBC it “does not require any applications or grant approvals related to aerodrome development,” a flowchart summarizing the regulations states, unless otherwise noted, proponents can begin construction 30 days after the report is submitted.

Transport Canada flowchart
(Transport Canada)

The Minister of Transport will give the green light or issue a notice requesting more information to evaluate ongoing objections, according to this page.

That statement is just an encouragement to “press the button, do it again and do it better this time,” Floyd said, but it’s not a “no.”

“It’s a non-process that does nothing to protect neighbors,” Watson said.

City says it is waiting for the defender

Pursuant to the Aviation Act, the Minister can stop a project due to aviation safety or social concerns.

“Transport Canada has the power to determine the location of aerodromes by banning them or keeping them silent,” Kelly said. “It seems that silence equates to approval.”

The city said it understands residents want the council to be more involved, but is focusing its concerns on Transport Canada.

“Because the city has no authority over these types of matters, staff are unable to proactively contact the federal agency or the proponent,” the city said.

Dunrobin resident Carolynne Bruce said the city needs to speak out either way, saying it is “discharging its responsibilities and leaving concerned citizens to fend for themselves”.

Ottawa morning8:18Man’s homemade runway plan gets turbulent reactions

One man’s plan to install a grass runway on his property in western Ottawa has neighbors concerned about a federally mandated consultation process that they say misses the mark.

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