ARCHIVED — Vol. 147, No. 4 — February 13, 2013

Registration

SOR/2013-10 January 31, 2013

CANADA NATIONAL PARKS ACT

Regulations Amending the National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations

P.C. 2013-19 January 31, 2013

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to paragraph 16(1)(x) of the Canada National Parks Act (see footnote a), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations.

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE NATIONAL PARKS OF
CANADA AIRCRAFT ACCESS REGULATIONS

AMENDMENTS

1. Section 1 of the National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations (see footnote 1) is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

“diversion” means a forced or precautionary landing to address or avert an imminent or potential threat to the safety of a pilot, a passenger or a person on the ground if the pilot cannot return safely to the take-off point and if continuing to the planned destination is not feasible, including a landing because of

  • (a) a medical emergency of the pilot or a passenger;
  • (b) a mechanical or fuel problem that renders continued operation of the aircraft unsafe;
  • (c) the minimum visual meteorological conditions for VFR flight, as set out in Part VI, Subpart 2, Division VI of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, not being met; or
  • (d) the destination airstrip becoming unusable while the flight is in progress. (déroutement)

2. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 1.2:

1.3 These Regulations do not apply in respect of nonmotorized paragliders or hang-gliders.

3. Section 2 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

2. (1) Subject to section 5, it is prohibited for a person to conduct a take-off or landing of an aircraft in a park, other than in a park set out in column I of the schedule at a take-off and landing location set out in column II.

(2) It is prohibited for a person to conduct a take-off or landing of an aircraft in a park set out in any of items 1 to 9, 11 or 12, column I, of the schedule unless that person is the holder of a permit.

(3) It is prohibited for a person to conduct a take-off or landing of an aircraft in the park set out in item 13, column I, of the schedule, other than

  • (a) for non-commercial recreational purposes if the person is the holder of a permit; or
  • (b) to land in the case of a diversion or other emergency situation.

(4) It is prohibited for a person to conduct a take-off or landing of an aircraft in the park set out in item 14, column I, of the schedule, other than to land in the case of a diversion or other emergency situation.

(5) In the case of a landing referred to in paragraph (3)(b) or subsection (4), the person must

  • (a) notify the superintendent as soon as feasible after landing of
    • (i) the fact that they have landed at a take-off and landing location set out in item 13 or 14, column II, of the schedule, as the case may be, and
    • (ii) the nature of the diversion or other emergency situation; and
  • (b) obtain the superintendent’s authorization before take-off.

4. The portion of section 5 of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

5. The superintendent may authorize the use of a take-off and landing location in a park set out in any of items 1, 3 to 7 or 10, column I, of the schedule, other than a location set out in column II, if

5. Item 6 of the schedule to the Regulations is amended by adding, in column II, the following after paragraph (b):

Item

Column II

Take-off and Landing Location

6.

  • (c) South Nahanni River at latitude 62°01′35″N, longitude 127°19′35″W
  • (d) Island Lake at latitude 62°20′50″N, longitude 128°11′00″W
  • (e) Honeymoon Lake at latitude 62°21′15″N, longitude 128°13′50″W
  • (f) Glacier Lake at latitude 62°05′00″N, longitude 127°34′00″W
  • (g) Seaplane Lake at latitude 61°24′50″N, longitude 126°49′00″W

6. The schedule to the Regulations is amended by adding the following after item 12:

Item

Column I

Park

Column II

Take-off and Landing Location

13.

Jasper National Park of Canada

Jasper airstrip at latitude 52°59′48″N, longitude 118°03′34″W

14.

Banff National Park of Canada

Banff airstrip at latitude 51°12′30″N, longitude 115°32′25″W

COMING INTO FORCE

7. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Executive summary

Issues: Paragliders and hang gliders are included in the definition of “aircraft” in section 1 of the National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations (the Regulations). Given that the Regulations prohibit any aircraft to take off or to land in national parks or national park reserves other than in specific circumstances, non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders have to be removed from the application of the Regulations in order for Parks Canada to allow their use in national parks and national park reserves for recreational purposes.

Since 1997, routine aviation activities have been prohibited on the Banff airstrip in Banff National Park of Canada and on the Jasper airstrip in Jasper National Park of Canada. However, after an independent Air Safety Risk Assessment was conducted, the Government of Canada reconsidered the closure of both the Banff and Jasper airstrips and concluded that these closures increased risks to pilots and created legal uncertainties with regard to the airstrips. In 2008, the Government of Canada decided to reopen the Banff airstrip for emergency and diversionary purposes only and the Jasper airstrip for emergency and diversionary purposes as well as for non-commercial recreational use. In order to authorize their use for those purposes, both airstrips have to be re-listed in the Schedule to the Regulations.

Prior to their inclusion within the boundaries of the Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada (Nahanni), the lands and water bodies located in the expansion area of Nahanni contained landing and take-off locations that were traditionally used to provide aircraft access to the region. The continued use of five of these locations as essential visitor access points to Nahanni require their listing in the Schedule to the Regulations in order to give them a regulatory status and eliminate any legal uncertainty about their use.

Description: The amendments remove non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders from the application of the Regulations. They also provide for the limited use of the airstrips in Banff and Jasper national parks of Canada and re-list these in the Schedule to the Regulations. The five landing locations in Nahanni are also added to Column II of the Schedule to the Regulations.

Cost-benefit statement: The implementation of the amendments results in an initial cost of $60,000 to make the Banff and Jasper airstrips operational. Subsequent costs related to the regular operation of the Jasper airstrip will be recovered through the permit system. The costs associated with the remaining provisions will be minimal and covered within existing operational resources.

“One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, as there is no change in administrative burden costs to businesses. The small business lens also does not apply, as there are no increased administrative burden or compliance costs to small business resulting from the amendments.

Issue
Diversification of activities in national parks

Paragliders and hang gliders are currently included in the definition of “aircraft” in subsection 3(1) of the Aeronautics Act, which is the same definition used in the Regulations. This makes paragliders and hang gliders subject to the same restrictions imposed on all aircraft by the Regulations. As a result, non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders have to be removed from the application of the Regulations in order for Parks Canada to allow the potential diversification of the recreational activity offered in national parks and national park reserves.

Banff and Jasper airstrips

In accordance with the recommendations of the 1987 Banff National Park of Canada Management Plan and the 1988 Jasper National Park of Canada Management Plan, Parks Canada decided to close and retire from service the airstrips located in these parks. Routine aviation activities have been prohibited there since the adoption of the Regulations in 1997. In that same year, Parks Canada closed the airstrips following a screening carried out under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA).

However, before retirement from service work could be undertaken, a group of airstrip users contested the Parks Canada decision. The courts ordered the Agency to conduct a comprehensive study under provisions of the CEAA before implementing its decision regarding the retirement from service of the airstrips. The results of an independent Air Safety Assessment study revealed that the retirement from service of the airstrips could increase risks to pilots and to aviation safety. In 2008, the Government of Canada was not prepared to accept the level of risk posed and decided to cancel its decision to retire the airstrips from service and to reopen the Banff airstrip for emergency and diversionary purposes only and the Jasper airstrip for emergency and diversionary purposes as well as for non-commercial recreational use. In order to authorize their use for those purposes, both airstrips have to be re-listed in the Schedule to the Regulations.

Landing locations in Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada

An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act to enlarge Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada came into force on June 18, 2009. Prior to the inclusion of the expansion area within the boundaries of the national park reserve, the expansion area included landing and take-off locations that were traditionally used to provide aircraft access to this remote region. In order to continue the use of these landing locations as essential visitor access points to the national park reserve, it is necessary to add these to the Schedule to the Regulations.

Objectives

The objectives of the amendments to the Regulations are (1) to diversify recreational activities in national parks and national park reserves by removing non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders from the application of the Regulations; (2) to provide for the limited use of the airstrips in Banff and Jasper national parks of Canada and re-list them in the Schedule to the Regulations; and (3) add five additional landing locations in Nahanni to the Schedule to the Regulations to provide aircraft access to this remote region.

Description
New section

A new section 1.3 is added to the Regulations to exclude non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders from the application of the Regulations.

Airstrips in Banff and Jasper

The Regulations are further amended to provide for the limited use of the airstrips in Banff and Jasper national parks of Canada. A new definition of “diversion” is added to section 1; section 2 is amended to specify the circumstances and conditions of the limited uses of the two airstrips; and both airstrips are re-listed under the Schedule to the Regulations.

Amendment to the Schedule to the Regulations

Finally, five additional landing locations in Nahanni are added to Column II of the Schedule to the Regulations.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

The only alternative to regulation is to maintain the status quo. However, this alternative has not been entertained as it does not correspond to current operational realities. It is necessary to amend the Regulations (1) to remove the impediment to authorizing non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders in national parks and national park reserves; (2) to provide for limited use of the airstrips in Banff and Jasper national parks of Canada and to re-list them in the Schedule to the Regulations; and (3) to add the five landing locations in the expansion area of Nahanni to the Schedule to the Regulations.

Benefits and costs

The economic consequence of removing non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders from the application of the Regulations is negligible. Their regulation under the National Parks General Regulations means that in addition to paying park admission fees, participants must purchase a permit to carry out these activities where they are allowed. The fees set by the Agency for a permit for these activities will be no more than $15 per person per day. It is estimated that about 100 permits per year may be issued in those parks where these activities are allowed. No additional resources will be required as the administration of these activities will be managed within current resources. Local businesses may benefit from a slight increase in revenue attributable to people engaging in these activities.

In Banff National Park of Canada, the coming into force of the amendments will result in an initial cost of $30,000, which includes updating signs, runway markings, and windsocks; vegetation management; and decommissioning facilities associated with recreational use (e.g. hangars and fuel tanks). The costs to Parks Canada for administering this service and maintaining the airstrip will fall under normal operating budgets.

In Jasper National Park of Canada, the coming into force of the amendments will result in an initial cost of $30,000, which represents the cost of updating basic facilities, installing operational signs, grass seeding the area, replacing landing strip markers, and installing a booth for self-registration and fee collection. Thereafter, the costs of regular operations will be recovered through the permit system. The national park will also assume the administrative costs related to issuing and processing permits and payments, updating signage and infrastructure and carrying out minor maintenance tasks and occasional compliance audits. The fees the Agency proposes to be set under section 23 of the Parks Canada Agency Act and to list in the Parks Canada Master List of Fees for non-commercial recreational use will be $5 for a day permit, $50 for a non-resident’s annual permit and $100 for a resident’s annual permit (which includes the cost of a long-term parking permit). The estimated demand in the first year is 400 day permits, 10 non-residents’ annual permits and 4 residents’ annual permits.

Prior to take-off from the airstrips in Banff and Jasper national parks of Canada, as a result of an emergency or diversionary landing, it will be necessary to obtain the superintendent’s authorization. Users of these airstrips in emergency situations would not be required to pay any fees. The costs to Parks Canada for this service will be minimal.

The addition of five landing locations in Nahanni will not result in any additional administrative or operational costs. Four sites are water landings and the fifth site allows for wheeled aircraft landings. No maintenance will be carried out.

“One-for-One” Rule

The regulatory amendments are not captured by the “One-for-One” Rule as they would not result in any increase in administrative burden costs. The provisions relating to non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders and the Banff and Jasper airstrips do not affect any business. Air charter businesses wanting to land in the areas added to Nahanni to the Schedule to the Regulations were already required to obtain a permit for the exercise of this activity in other areas of the park reserve.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, as there are no changes in administrative burden or compliance costs for small businesses.

Consultation

The practice of paragliding and hang gliding in national parks and national park reserves was reviewed in a national recreational activity assessment workshop which took place in September 2008. This nationwide assessment workshop was attended by 24 participants, 14 from Parks Canada and 10 from outside the Agency. Participants from outside the Agency included representatives of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the National Capital Commission, the Alpine Club of Canada and the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada. The working group unanimously agreed that it was acceptable to use nonmotorized paragliders and hang gliders in national parks and national park reserves using recommended guidelines and upon approval of an amendment to the National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations.

In a press release dated March 14, 2008, the Government of Canada announced its intention to reopen the Banff and the Jasper airstrips. Meetings were held to discuss the proposed amendments with national aviation and environmental interest groups, such as the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the local Jasper Flying Club.

When changes to the Banff and the Jasper airstrips were announced in 2008, members of environmental groups expressed their opposition and launched a lawsuit to overturn the decision to proceed with the proposed amendments. During the course of discussions with leaders of environmental groups and in various public meetings, Parks Canada clarified that the small airstrips would not be enlarged and that their physical condition would not be enhanced, thus limiting their use to daytime flights by small aircraft. After these clarifications were provided, the environmental groups discontinued their lawsuit.

The review of the management plans for Banff and Jasper national parks of Canada, carried out between March 2009 and March 2010, provided an opportunity to include the decision to reopen the airstrips and to gather comments on the criteria for managing the airstrips, as part of the public consultation process.

Summary documents describing the circumstances surrounding the reopening of the Jasper airstrip and future management criteria were released to the public for information and comment purposes during the Jasper National Park of Canada Planning Forum (March 14, 2009) and posted on a Parks Canada online consultation Web site from March to July 2009, and have been posted on the Jasper National Park of Canada Web site since July 2009.

During the consultations on the park management plan for Banff National Park of Canada, the re-listing of the Banff airstrip for emergency and diversionary purposes was discussed but virtually no comments were received. However, on-going discussions with environmental organizations indicate a consistent concern that the Banff airstrip should not be made available for non-commercial recreational use. During the same consultation period, comments were received in favour of and against re-listing the Jasper airstrip. Some members of the public and an environmental organization urged Parks Canada to close the airstrip to non-commercial recreational use and rehabilitate the grassland area. Other individuals and organizations supported re-listing the Jasper airstrip for both emergency purposes and non-commercial recreational use.

Approximately 25 Aboriginal groups known to have an interest in Jasper National Park of Canada were informed of the decision relative to the Jasper airstrip and given information on the process for updating the park management plan during three meetings held in connection with the Jasper Aboriginal Forum (October 2008 and April and October 2009). Jasper National Park of Canada also hosted five individual meetings with Aboriginal communities in the summer of 2009 as part of the broad consultation process to update the park management plan. The input received from the public and from local Aboriginal groups was taken into consideration when this regulatory proposal was drafted.

The intention to add landing locations in Nahanni was presented as part of the public consultations for the Nahanni management plan. In January 2010, a factsheet on aircraft access was made available to the public. It was posted on the Nahanni online discussion forum (www.nahanniplan.ca) and was distributed at three community open houses hosted during the month of January 2010. In addition, the factsheet and the Nahanni draft management plan were shared with stakeholders (including river outfitters and air charter operators) and local Aboriginal groups and posted on the Dehcho First Nations’ Web site. The original proposal was to add six landing locations to the Schedule to the Regulations to provide access to the expansion area. However, given the concerns raised during the public consultations about the unique nature of one of the proposed locations, only five landing locations are being added to the Schedule to the Regulations.

The amendments to the Regulations were prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on October 1, 2011. During the 30-day comment period, comments were received from the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, the Association for Mountain Parks Protection & Enjoyment and from Blake Richards, member of Parliament for Airdrie, Alberta. Their comments all pertained to ensuring that the Banff airstrip was specifically re-listed in the Schedule to the Regulations as a “registered aerodrome for emergency and diversionary use only.” The Regulations re-list the Banff airstrip for emergency and diversionary landings only, in addition to re-listing the Jasper airstrip for emergency and diversionary purposes as well as non-commercial recreational use.

Comments were also received from members of the national recreational activity assessment working group requesting that the amendments to the Regulations clarify the issue related to the removal of paragliders and hang gliders from the application of the Regulations. The wording in the new section 1.3 has been revised to specify that the exclusion from the application of the Regulations only applies to “non-motorized” paragliders and hang gliders.

Rationale

The removal of non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders from the application of the Regulations allows them to be considered as recreational activities, while still ensuring their regulation under the National Parks General Regulations. The addition of new recreational activities supports Parks Canada’s strategic direction to enhance opportunities for visitor experience and to increase visitation to national parks and national parks reserves.

Studies determined that retirement-from-service of the Banff and Jasper airstrips would increase the risks to pilots and aviation safety. Moreover, the legal uncertainty that would arise from the status of a landing strip that was closed but not retired from service prompted the Government of Canada in 2008 to propose the reopening and re-listing of the airstrips in both national parks in the Schedule to the Regulations. The Banff airstrip will be open for emergency and diversionary landings only and the Jasper airstrip for emergency, diversionary and non-commercial recreational use.

A strategic environmental assessment carried out with regard to reopening of the airstrips in both Banff and Jasper national parks of Canada considered potential effects on valued ecosystem components at the local and regional environmental scale, and concluded that

  • Re-listing the Banff airstrip for emergency and diversionary aircraft use in combination with the implementation of the proposed management approach is expected to achieve the desired conditions associated with wildlife movement, predator/prey dynamics, grassland ecosystems and pilot safety. Specifically, effective wildlife movement through the airstrip area and connectivity with adjacent areas of the park is expected to be maintained by the controls on aircraft use and decommissioning of unneeded infrastructure. Predator/prey dynamics may improve and function as expected in a natural system as a result of the controls on use, decommissioning of site infrastructure and ecological restoration. The introduction or spread of invasive non-native plant species will be controlled through restoration activities and the application of improved procedures for mowing and snow removal; and
  • Re-listing the Jasper airstrip for emergency and diversionary purposes and for use by non-commercial recreational aircraft will not result in significant adverse environmental effects at the local or regional scale, with the implementation of mitigation measures.

The amendments also provide for continued access to the expansion area added to Nahanni to facilitate further opportunities for visitor experience and business opportunities for aircraft operators.

Implementation and enforcement

Non-motorized paragliders and hang gliders in national parks and national park reserves will be managed in a manner similar to other recreational activities in national parks. Guidelines will be introduced to help ensure the safety of participants and visitors.

Because the work to fully retire the Banff and Jasper airstrips from service was not carried out following their closing in 1997, the airstrips will require only minimal work to reopen them. To gain access to the Jasper airstrip for non-commercial recreational use, it will be necessary to obtain a permit from the superintendent of the national park.

The amendments concerning additional landing locations in the expanded Nahanni will allow Parks Canada to manage these locations pursuant to the provisions of the Regulations.

To implement the amendments to the Regulations, current education, compliance and monitoring programs will be used. In addition, law enforcement officers and other park employees will conduct regular patrols to ensure compliance with the Regulations.

In the event of non-compliance with the provisions of the Regulations, a charge could be laid pursuant to subsection 24(2) of the Canada National Parks Act, for which a fine of up to $25,000 on summary conviction, and up to $100,000 on indictment, could be imposed.

Contact

Julie Lacasse
Senior Advisor
Legislative Affairs
Policy, Legislative and Cabinet Affairs
Parks Canada Agency
25 Eddy Street, 4th Floor (25-4-Q)
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0M5
Telephone: 819-994-5138
Fax: 819-997-5140
Email: julie.lacasse@pc.gc.ca