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Action needed TODAY – Floatplanes coming to Squamish

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by raquo » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:04 am

Hello,

Harbour Air has applied to install a floatplane dock right next to Nexen Beach, this can potentially limit our sailing area. Please read and send a short comment TODAY to make our concerns heard. This Friday is the ultimate deadline for public comments, sorry I didn't know about this before.

What's happening:
* Harbour Air wants to operate floatplanes from Squamish
* They are applying to build a dock near Nexen beach

Concerns related to windsports:
* Floatplanes will likely be taking off and landing in the sailing area just south of Nexen
* Recreational watersports users and a floatplane aerodrome don't mix very well to say the least
* The application has zero acknowledgement of potential conflict with windsport users or even our existence. Not a good start at all.
* The application references an old "operational flight and landing plan" as an attached document, but it is nowhere to be found, neither on squamish.ca nor on tc.canada.ca nor in the Canada Water Aerodrome Supplement
* That plan is likely to be outdated as it doesn't account for the upcoming change in Nexen shoreline – a lot of land will be infilled moving the shoreline to the south.
* Also, it is unclear where the floatplanes will be landing and taking off when it's windy and wavy (i.e. when we're sailing), they call it the "inside landing area" which is likely the blind channel, i.e. we could be directly in their path as they take off, i.e. we could be kicked out of the best part of Nexen sailing area (immediately south of the blind channel)

What can you do:
* See attached documents that I downloaded from http://squamish.ca/showcase
* Write a short letter to the district's planning dept. telling them that the windsports sailing area is very important to you, that you use it often, and that you believe that the conflict between floatplanes and windsport users was not addressed in the application, and that in the application should not be approved until a suitable plan is put forward and sees a proper public consultation / discussion.
* Either email planning@squamish.ca referencing development application DP 530 / DP 2020-22 or submit a feedback form on http://squamish.ca/showcase (search for 2020-22, then click on the link "Request a public information meeting or submit a comment")

Personal note
I believe that we can coexist with floatplanes if they land / takeoff far enough and just taxi through the sailing area without restricting our usage anymore than any passing vessel would. However, it is far from certain that this is in fact their plan as they didn't even mention windsports in their application. They will likely end up taking off from calmer waters near the blind channel on windy days, which would interfere with us a lot more. Especially given the uncertainty of future spit access we need to fight tooth and nail about such things, we need to constantly remind the council that we exist and that we want to maintain and expand our water access.

We need to be heard now, before all the approvals are given and tons of money is sunk into establishing this terminal and routes. Don't need another access crisis a year from now. So please take a few minutes and write a letter with your concerns.

There's some discussion happening on facebook as well, and if you could cross post this to whatsapp and friends, that would be great.
Last edited by raquo on Fri Jul 10, 2020 12:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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by Mike » Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:43 am

I thank you for looking out for us.

I was not able to find all the information you referred to but have taken your summary and sent an e-mail as suggested.

https://www.squamishreporter.com/2020/0 ... -victoria/

I recall taking a training kite to Bonson Park in Pitt Meadows. I had a parent warn me that it's in the Pitt Meadows airport flight path. Now I think the real reason he came over was "little Johny" was getting bonked in the head with a baseball because he was watching the kite instead of his ball game 8-) . I respected this either way. Now if it was true that the distance from a training kite line to planes way overhead is a risk, then I can't imagine how floatplanes landing and taking off can not be a consideration in our Squamish setting.
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by raquo » Fri Jul 10, 2020 4:49 pm

Got this response from the district just now:

Good afternoon,

Thank you for submitting your comments in reference to Harbour Air float plane dock DP 553, Project 2020-22. This email is to confirm that we have received your comments and to let you know that public consultation will be conducted for this project. Please find attached a letter from the proponent that provides additional information related to landing and take-off areas, and proposed flight frequency. This letter has been included on the project webpage, the District’s Development Showcase.

For public consultation, the District will reach out to recreational watersports user groups and marine industrial stakeholders directly. Additionally, next week, there will be further project information uploaded to an interactive website that the District is currently using to host virtual Public Information Meetings during COVID, called StoryMaps. The District will send a link to you once the information is uploaded. Thank you for your comments and we look forward to further consultation.


I added the letter they shared to the documents here. And, I didn't notice it on the first read but it does actually have a map of operations on the last page. Here it is:

Image

As expected, they will be using the green area for takeoffs in windy / wavy weather, which is when we're sailing. My main concern is whether the floatplanes will be able to climb out to a high enough altitude to safely clear the kites before reaching the sailing area when taking off.

Anyway, thank you everyone who has taken the time to send in their comments. Some sort of online public consultation will take place soon, that's encouraging at least. I will post a link to it here when it's up.
Last edited by raquo on Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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by LeopardSkin » Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:23 pm

Yes, I received the same response.
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by DavidJames » Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:43 pm

Interesting they don't show the aerodrome. I would think it covers almost the whole area that they show flying happening in if you made a large box around it. So the whole Nexan area and I doubt you are allowed to fly a kite inside an aerodrome...... You can't where I live.
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by raquo » Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:52 am

Yeah their community letter makes some borderline false claims about marine traffic avoidance. They don't actually operate any aerodromes with windsurfer / kiteboarder traffic in the immediate vicinity, let alone right at the runway.

I have no idea how they're imagining this will work. They gotta be well aware that both the taking off beavers and the sailing windsurfers have rather limited visibility in each other's direction.

Probably hoping to get the approval now simply based on low expected frequency of flights during covid times, and just gradually push us out later as they ramp up operations.
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by shmish » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:43 am

There’s also those opti sailing clubs or camps that come out and sail right in front of Nexen along with all sorts of paddlers. Hopefully they’re giving feedback too, I mentioned them in my feedback.
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by morrison » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:58 am

This will be the third attempt to run an air service out of this area.that I know of.
Never had any conflict and more importantly they don't seem to survive economically.
Now the abandoned sailboat might be something to cause concern and effort?
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by JonathanP » Sat Jul 11, 2020 1:01 pm

Thanks for the heads up on this! I've only been in a float plane once in calm conditions, but I'd think it would be pretty hazardous trying to taxi one through the vodoo chop in Gusty 20knt winds. I would hope most typical windy days they would only be using the channel, maybe scheduling most flights for morning/late evening during summer?
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