Victoria’s water airport to be one of several in Canada to undergo new safety certification from Transport Canada. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Water airports in Canada currently lack consistent safety certification

An amendment put forward by Transport Canada aims to remedy operational inconsistencies

A surprising detail in water airports has been overlooked by Transport Canada for years: there’s been no official certification process.

This means there’s been no consistent approval process for the safety and operation of water airports, also called water aerodromes.

This is about to change. Transport Canada has proposed an amendment to its regulations to ensure that airports of certain size and urban proximity gain consistent approval.

“Transport Canada operates the water airport on a ‘beyond minimum compliance’ basis, so we already have in place many of the requirements under Civil Aviation Regulations 302 that are essential for land-based airports, and will become essential for water airports under the new regulatory regime,” explained Simon Rivet, senior advisor for media relations for Transport Canada in an e-mail.

“These measures include a robust safety management system, wildlife plan, emergency plan, and quality assurance program.”

The Victoria Harbour Water Airport is one of the few of its kind in Canada to hold a draft certificate under current regulations, but this version will soon become voided.

“Transport Canada does not anticipate any major changes to Victoria Harbour Water Airport’s operations,” Rivet said. “The most substantial impact will be that the airport will have to give up the existing airport certificate and re-apply to obtain certification under the new regulations.”

These changes will affect many of the 48 water airports located within a city or town in Canada, though Transport Canada is asking municipalities for feedback on which airports will need to comply. The two options include a broader and finer definition.

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The first option is to apply the certification to all water airports “located in the built-up area of a city or town” or “to have scheduled passenger service.” The second option would also be for airports located in a city or town but have more than “14 scheduled passenger movements per day” or receive an aircraft that can carry nine passengers and a pilot for scheduled services.

Transport Canada is asking for feedback by Aug. 22. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she’s thrilled with the movement, adding that she’s been pushing for legislation since 2012.

“The nut of it is there are actually are no safety regulations for water airports in Canada… we’ve been advocating for the Minister of Transport to develop safety regulations for years,” Helps said. “It’s just common sense.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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