Residents express frustration over floatplane base on Vancouver waterfront

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      Coal Harbour residents who are concerned about air pollution and noise say a temporary floatplane terminal near their waterfront neighbourhood has been in place long enough.

      After five years based at the site, the operators are seeking another permit from the city so they can stay put until spring 2012. The most recent permit expired on June 1.

      In late 2004, the city granted approval that allowed Harbour Air Seaplanes and West Coast Air to relocate from their home at the end of Burrard Street because of expansion work on the Vancouver Convention Centre.

      But the move was met with an outcry from nearby residents who argued the floatplane activity would disrupt their lives.

      Clarke McKeen, with the Coal Harbour Residents Association, said a “hard end-date” should be set for when the operation must move to either a different interim site or a proposed permanent home on the north side of the convention centre, not far from the current location.

      McKeen questioned why, after several years, the floatplanes are still operating from the site near a park at the end of Bute Street.

      “It’s becoming more than temporary. It’s becoming permanent,” he told the Straight today (June 2).

      He complained about the noise and fumes the planes produce as they manoeuver on the water.

      In a recent letter to mayor and council, the residents association recommended the city deny the request for a two-year permit, the third such application made since 2004. However, the association does support giving the operators until the end of year to relocate.

      “Residents and park users alike are being held hostage to ongoing outside issues that seem to have no end in sight,” the letter reads. “This situation must come to an end.”

      On June 10, council is set to review the permit application from the floatplane operators, who provide a key air link between downtown Vancouver and Victoria. The city’s director of planning will make the final decision on the permit.

      McKeen said he heard the move to the proposed permanent floatplane and marina facility—a project that has city approval—has been delayed because the operators and project developer have not reached a lease agreement.

      Bill Boons, assistant director of development for the city, said “a number of factors including the economic downturn” have delayed construction on the provincially owned site.

      “We’re hoping the actual construction of that facility will begin very soon and hopefully be in place as early as next spring,” Boons told the Straight today.

      Dimas Craveiro, with the Vancouver Rowing Club, said he does not object to the presence of floatplanes on the waterfront. But he expressed frustration that there are few signs the planes will stop using the temporary facility any time soon.

      He said rowers have respiratory concerns related to exhaust from the planes.

      “The further away a plane flies, obviously, the pollutants are diffused more, and that’s important for rowers and residents,” Craveiro told the Straight today.

      A request for comment from the floatplane operators was not immediately returned.




      Jun 2, 2010 at 3:01pm

      Boohoo. I've lived in the city for years and could care less. It's a perfect spot for it as it's near other transit hubs and it goes well with the ferry terminal to west van and bowen that is adjacent.


      Jun 2, 2010 at 3:09pm

      O please....stop whining.

      You want to see disruption to lives? Trying living east of Richards where real problems are. New social housing sprouting up monthly attracting the worst abuse imaginable. Il trade you float plains for a 200 unit social house complex.

      Nicole S

      Jun 2, 2010 at 4:57pm

      If this group of residents were more educated they would realize that freighters and cruise ships are some of the world’s largest polluters; most of which have no regulations or standards when it comes to the environment. Why do you live in a place you are not happy to live in? I can assure you the float planes have been operating from Coal Harbour for much longer than any of you have lived there. Of course it makes sense to inconvenience 400,000 float plane users per year because of the noise and fumes you experience in your multi-million dollar waterfront property”¦I feel for all of you, really. I live on Georgia Street, it is always busy and you can smell car exhaust all day, can we shut that street down? I am sure some of you have driven your Landover’s on that street”¦no?? You have nothing better to do with your time than to complain. Perhaps you should try living in Haiti, South Africa or Somalia for a few months? Perhaps and only perhaps maybe then you would appreciate what you have and that others would die to live where you live.


      Jun 2, 2010 at 5:30pm

      The float plane operators are slobs! I've seen oil slicks in the water that originated on their floats. The unburned gases are a health hazard. The floats themselves are an eyesore on the waterfront. They ignore bylaws around the operation of the base.
      A deal is a deal. They said they would be out of there and in their new permanent facility by June 1, 2010 and they still haven't moved.
      No one that I know has a problem with them staying in Coal Harbour. The problem is that they haven't held up their end of the deal. At some point in time they have to live up to their commitments.

      Anthony P

      Jun 2, 2010 at 6:41pm

      Wake up! You live downtown. To some, trains and planes in their backyards represent a unique, even exciting, feature of their condos/homes. To others, it's a nuisance. The latter should grab themselves by the ear and move to the bush.


      Jun 2, 2010 at 6:42pm

      Grow up. Its a busy, large city with all the trimmings. Move to the valley and complain about the smell. Music is the best.

      Doug D

      Jun 2, 2010 at 10:04pm

      Lets get the Convention Center Location finished.

      A sea plane terminal does not belong in a park. There is no security at the temporary location as there will be at the permanent home. Osama Bin Laden could board a plane there.

      The 'temporary' sheds are ugly just off the park.

      There is a decided solution..the new terminal at the Convention Center.

      5 years is ridiculous for a big private company to be plopped down in a beautiful city park.

      Ashley M

      Jun 3, 2010 at 1:48am

      I walk my dog through the park every day and there are times that the noise of those engines is much louder and for much longer than anything you've heard on Georgia St. On the streets cars, SUVs and bikes are supposed to be bound by the noise bylaws of the city, but not the float planes. Why are they still there instead of the "transportation hub"? I'll give you a tip: avoid Harbour Green park between 4 and 5 pm, you won't stand the noise and fumes.

      Anne J

      Jun 3, 2010 at 10:38am

      I have lived in Coal Harbour since 1994. There were three floatplanes at the end of the dock where our boat was moored. Even those were noisy and smelly but we lived with it and there was some charm to them.
      Now facts show that there are over 160 flights in and out daily of the Coal Harbour airport in the summer. The City has implemented a no smoking rule in our downtown parks ie.Stanley Park and yet we are ok to breathe in this daily poluution and have our buildings, decks and interiors black with the soot from the planes. I work from home and have to close all windows and patio doors to hear myself think or talk on the phone. The fuel smell permeates everything and going for a walk on our lovely seawall is not a decision taken lightly depending on which way the wind is blowing.

      Shona R

      Jun 3, 2010 at 10:47am

      Ashley M - I live on Georgia Street as well and it's loud and noisy 24/7. On a nice evening your hear Harley after Harley, street races in the middle of the night, sirens, accidents etc. It never stops. Why dont the residents of the Fraser Valley come downtown and protest car traffic as all the pollution from them ends up there? Pollution is a sad fact of life and something we all create. Here's a tip for you: I have the choice to live elsewhere as you have a choice to walk your dog elsewhere.