Maple Ridge residents are complaining about more air traffic say city councillors. (Contributed)

Increased air traffic over east Maple Ridge brings complaints says councillor

YPK manager says more flying practice in training area the likely cause

An increase in air traffic over Maple Ridge has residents complaining to city councillors.

Both Gordy Robson and Ahmed Yousef say residents in eastern Maple Ridge are grousing about the drone of aircraft and the frequency of flights over neighbourhoods in Albion, Silver Valley, Websters Corners, Whonnock and the area.

Robson said there is a “big uptick” in air traffic.

“I’ve had lots of complaints, mainly from people in the Websters Corners area,” he said. “It’s not a good idea to fly over neighbourhoods, both for the irritation and noise, but also for safety.”

He plans to bring the matter for discussion by Maple Ridge council and the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport board.

An economic issue he will raise is the noise of planes stops filming, and could drive Hollywood North’s location scouts away from Maple Ridge in search of quieter sets.

“I’ve lived in Websters Corners for 32 years and have never heard so many planes before,” said Kerry Verchere. “They are low flying, some circle over and over and it is a real detriment to my country lifestyle.”

Verchere plans to follow up with council.

YPK airport Manager Guy Miller said there is a designated training area over Whonnock and Stave Lake, where new pilots can fly and more experienced flyers can try aerobatics. There is a similar training area over Pitt Lake which is popular, he said. It’s not unusual to see 10 planes using the area, flying over the lake, berry fields and golf course. They are frequented by flying schools in the region, and pilots can come from Langley, Abbotsford or other airports.

He noted these are both outside the Pitt Meadows Aiport’s zone of control, which extends three miles from the centre of the aiport.

“We as an airport in Pitt Meadows, do not control that air space,” said Miller.

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows Airport GM talks noise mitigation

Movements at the Pitt Meadows Aiport have been cut in half by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, down from the usual 12,000 takeoffs and landings each month, added Miller.

Hoewever, August may have seen a bump in air traffic in the training areas, because the weather has been better, and because flight schools are “catching up” after being closed, he speculated.

“And there could be a lot more people sitting in the back yard, because of COVID-19,” which would lead to more complaints.

Miller said the growth of Maple Ridge is likely causing more complaints about the training area. Houses and subdivisions are “slowly migrating under this air space over time.”

“Urban sprawl moves into that air space, and people are living under aerobatics.”

If that’s an issue, it’s one for the city to raise with Nav Canada, said Miller.

Robson is also worried that the Nav Canada Airspace Modernization Project for Greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island will restructure practice areas for pilots, and could result in planes being diverted from busier air space south of the Fraser River to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. That project is underway, and is scheduled to continue through spring of 2021.

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