Air­plane noise rat­tles lo­cal res­i­dent

2012 flight path change plagues Rich­mond Hill neigh­bour­hood

Thornhill Post - - News -

Rich­mond Hill res­i­dents near Weldrick Road East and Bayview Av­enue have been af­fected by air­plane noise for five years, and they’re get­ting fed up.

In 2012, a change to the flight path at Pear­son In­ter­na­tional Air­port meant more res­i­den­tial ar­eas are be­ing im­pacted by air­crafts flying over­head.

“It’s noise that is con­stant. It’s loud. It’s roar­ing. It’s screech­ing,” said Bessie Karel­las, who has lived in the area for al­most 30 years.

This spring, the noise has been worse than ever, said Karel­las.

“It starts any­where from 5 to 5:30 in the morn­ing, for about two hours. It wakes us up, un­less we wear earplugs [with] the win­dows closed, which is not the way I want to live,” she said.

Air­plane noise pol­lu­tion has been a prob­lem for GTA neigh­bour­hoods for years. In 2012, there were 1,989 of­fi­cial noise com­plaints from res­i­dents across the city. The num­ber in­creased to 6,431 in 2013, ac­cord­ing to the Greater Toronto Air­ports Au­thor­ity (GTAA).

At the end of Septem­ber, a meet­ing was held be­tween res­i­dents, mem­bers of the GTAA, Pear­son Air­port’s Com­mu­nity En­vi­ron­ment and Noise Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee (CENAC) and avi­a­tion con­sul­tancy He­lios. The lat­ter re­vealed a re­port on best prac­tices in noise man­age­ment, putting forth rec­om­men­da­tions, such as flying planes higher for longer to de­crease noise and im­ple­ment­ing a for­mal pol­icy on how com­plaints are han­dled.

The GTAA’s up­com­ing five-year noise man­age­ment ac­tion plan, set to be­gin in 2018, will be based on the re­port and is sup­posed be the step­ping stone to re­solv­ing the is­sue. But for the com­mu­nity, Karel­las said, the re­lief isn’t com­ing soon enough.

“A lot of peo­ple left that meet­ing dis­ap­pointed,” she said. “Peo­ple want change now. They want noise re­duc­tion now, not in five years, be­cause all they [ CENAC and GTAA] are do­ing is study af­ter study.”

Res­i­dents who at­tended the meet­ing said they were “dev­as­tated” by the noise. Some voiced con­cerns that no solid ac­tions had been taken by CENAC or the GTAA to deal with noise for the past five years. Soon af­ter, Karel­las de­cided to start a Twit­ter page, Quiet Sky Rich­mond Hill, to raise more aware­ness about the is­sue and to see who else was be­ing af­fected.

GTAA vice-pres­i­dent Hil­lary Mar­shall and her team are re­spon­si­ble for com­mu­nity re­la­tions, in­clud­ing the noise man­age­ment of­fice.

“I think the com­mu­nity wants ac­tion. We cer­tainly heard that loud and clear,” she said. Ac­cord­ing to Mar­shall, ini­tia­tives to re­duce noise, such as im­pos­ing in­cen­tives and fines for car­ri­ers flying into Pear­son and man­ag­ing noise at night, are un­der­way. More are ex­pected to roll out in the next few years.

How­ever, it would be im­pos­si­ble for planes to avoid en­tire neigh­bour­hoods.

“Pear­son has five run­ways. Three [run­ways] are east-west con­fig­u­ra­tion. And two [run­ways] are north-south,” she said. “Planes ob­vi­ously take off and land in align­ment with the runway, so it’s go­ing to dic­tate which com­mu­ni­ties they’re flying over.”

Karel­las has pre­vi­ously reached out to politi­cians like lo­cal mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Ja­hari Ma­jid when the is­sues started, but noth­ing was re­solved. She is also look­ing to lo­cal groups for sup­port, such as the Toronto Avi­a­tion Noise Group (TANG), which formed af­ter the flight path change in 2012.

Nav Canada, in charge of air traf­fic con­trol and flight in­for­ma­tion, will re­lease a pub­lic state­ment on the He­lios re­port in Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s na­tional man­ager for me­dia re­la­tions, Ron Singer.

The GTAA will also re­lease an anal­y­sis on how run­ways can be used dif­fer­ently on week­ends in the sum­mer and in De­cem­ber. The five-year noise re­duc­tion plan will be re­vealed in early 2018.

Un­til then, Karel­las is meet­ing with lo­cal town coun­cil­lors to find new so­lu­tions. Karel­las said she’s go­ing to keep push­ing for change.

“Men­tal health is a big is­sue here as well. Peo­ple are both­ered by the noise.” –– Court­ney Green­berg

Peo­ple want change now. They want noise re­duc­tion now, not in five years.”

Res­i­dent Bessie Karel­las has lived in the area for al­most 30 years

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