Flight path change means more noise

New route has jets flying over midtown to land at Pearson Airport

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… Yes, it’s definitely a plane.

Lots of planes.

According to residents in several midtown neighbourhoods, they’re louder and more frequent than ever.

Earlier this year, Nav Canada changed flight paths for arrivals to Pearson International Airport, effectively rerouting some air traffic to directly over central Toronto.

That shift is something 24-year Leaside resident Brenda Lord noticed immediately. Now, she says it’s like living near a runway.

“That’s what it feels like when you’re outside. Some nights it is just constant,” she said. “Literally you look up, there’s an aircraft overhead and you can look down and see the next one coming in. It’s like a line of planes.”

Lord says she can’t sleep with the window open anymore and thinks the best options would be to have the planes fly at higher altitudes or take an alternate route, such as over the Don Valley Parkway.

The changes were made following a three-year study of flight paths.

“Planes are not flying at lower altitudes than they were before, and there are not more planes than they were,” Nav Canada spokesman Ron Singer said. “But, yes, the location of one of the arrival routes has moved down south by about 1.8 kilometres.”

Councillor John Parker, who also lives in Leaside, said he has been oblivious to excess noise from planes overhead. But he is taking residents’ concerns seriously and is hopeful the altitude or timing of flights can be influenced, he said.

“We’ll have that discussion, but it’s not as though I seriously expect to bring a complaint to Nav Canada and have them invent a new system for flying planes into the Toronto airport.”

Councillor Josh Matlow made a motion at an early October session of council to get discussion going with involved parties.

“Obviously, the municipal government doesn’t have purview over airplane traffic, but my motion is that the city meet with Nav Canada, the federal government and all relevant agencies to review the flight paths and see if something can be done.”

But it could be a tall order to have anything done. Singer said there are a lot of restrictions when it comes to the design of flight paths.

“You can’t just put an arrival route wherever you want, planes have to fly on a certain path and they have to line up with the runway, so there are a lot of design standards that are international design standards for flight paths we have to adhere to,” he said. “There are severe limitations on where we can put planes. Planes can’t stop and turn on a dime like a car can.”

But Greg Russell, president of the South Eglinton Residents, says the community should have been consulted.

“The issue behind a lot of this is it sets a very bad precedent for Nav Canada implementing these changes without proper consultation with municipal government and residents associations,” he said. “And that translates over to every other major city with a major airport in the country. If they’ve done it in Toronto, what are they going to do to other cities?”

Russell, who runs a blog called North Toronto Aviation Noise, said he moved to Davisville because it was a desirable neighbourhood and because it offers a nearby french immersion program. But, had he known about the flight paths, he wouldn’t have moved, he said.

“We were living there by September of 2008, and by mid-October I realized this was really not a good situation,” he said, adding it was made worse this past February. “The redesign exacerbated things.”

While Russell says there technically isn’t a greater volume of aircraft, the redesign shifted them to a more concentrated area, which happens to be right overhead.

“It’s like taking a two-by-four and trying to squeeze it down into a chopstick,” he said. “So the interval between the flights is going to be less and there are going to be more of them throughout the day.”

Despite the perceived downsides, there is a positive environmental impact, according to Singer. As a result of the changes, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by about 14,000 metric tonnes a year, while fuel burn will be reduced by more than four million litres per year, he said.

As for complaints of noise, Singer said the redesign followed all the applicable regulations.

“All of the changes adhere to the existing noise abatement and noise standards,” he said.

— With files from Karolyn Coorsh

About this article:

By: Shawn Star
Posted: Oct 2 2012 6:57 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto