Did Minister Murray mislead the Legislature?
Last fall, in answer to a question from Ontario’s Opposition Leader Jim Wilson (PC Simcoe-Grey) about wind turbines and aviation safety at the Collinwood airport, Minister of the Environment Glen Murray told the Legislature that if there were any issue with aviation safety it is up to the federal Ministry of Transport to decide and further, that his office had been trying to reach Transport for guidance on this issue, but their telephone calls were not returned.
Here is his comment from Hansard, November 18, 2014 (our emphasis):
Airports and airport standards are regulated by the federal government. We’ve had this debate with members opposite. We have a federal transportation minister who doesn’t like to return provincial ministers’ calls, and that’s always a challenge. We’re really looking for some leadership from the federal government here, because you cannot build things in the pathway of an airport contrary to federal government fly-in approach and rules.
Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to the federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt (who has been away for health reasons, and apologized for the delay in responding) and we recently received a reply, which we excerpt.
On the issue of aviation safety at Collingwood, the Minister writes:
As you may be aware, aviation in Canada is regulated by Transport Canada under the authority of the Aeronautics Act and the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). Federal regulations require that airports and aerodromes comply with the applicable CARs; however, land use is a provincial/territorial/
The provincial Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is the approval authority for such projects, and the municipalities are responsible for issuing any required building permits. Transport Canada’s role with respect to wind turbines is to assess these structures for lighting and marking requirements in accordance with the CARs that pertain to obstacles.
Certain airports have federal airport zoning regulations (AZR) that restrict the height of obstacles within the protected area and protect their certification status. These airport zoning regulations are intended to protect the airport and its associated assets from development that is incompatible with its continued viable operation. Since Collingwood Regional Airport is not a certified aerodrome, it is not eligible to request that AZR be implemented to protect the surrounding lands.
On the issue of communication with the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Minister Raitt writes:
I would like to note that Transport Canada has met with senior officials at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and NAV CANADA to discuss approaches for working together to ensure effective consultation and guidance for project proponents. Transport Canada is also examining options to address obstacles in the vicinity of aerodromes and airports and enforcing the AZR where they exist.
Did Minister Murray mislead the Legislature when he stated that the federal officials refuse to speak with him? Was this part of the Wynne government’s narrative at the time, i.e., that they were getting no cooperation from the federal government? Why did he not simply say that federal government regulations do not apply to Collingwood? Why didn’t he answer that he was working with federal Transport officials? Why instead did he use the question from MPP Wilson as an opportunity to belittle Ontario citizens’ concerns about safety and mislead on federal-provincial relations?
Wind Concerns Ontario