A new report from the City of Richmond indicates there has been a 31 per cent one-year increase in regional noise complaints originating from air traffic at Vancouver International Airport.
However, while the figure may seem alarming, the report also adds the increase was primarily caused by three individuals in South Surrey, South Delta and Richmond who were responsible for 1,122 (66%) of the 1,695 noise complaints received in 2014 over air traffic. The remaining 573 complaints were made by 275 individuals from across the region.
The report notes the Richmond resident lives adjacent to the float plane route on the Middle Arm of the Fraser River, the southernmost area of Sea Island. In 2014, the individual fielded 130 noise concerns, which is a decrease from the 225 concerns submitted by the same individual in 2013.
Few changes can be made to the airport’s float plane operations due to the close proximity of the large aircraft flight paths for the South Runway.
For Richmond overall, excluding the single individual, the total number of reported complaints from residents living in the municipality increased from 151 in 2013 to 176 in 2014 – a 19 per cent increase.
The Vancouver Airport Authority and City of Richmond are working together to create a five-year “Noise Management Plan” to mitigate noise ahead of forecasts of major air traffic growth.
With increasing urban growth in Richmond under the flight paths, a “Noise Management Home Buyer & Owner Guide” is also being created to educate homebuyers and provide existing homeowners on flight path noise expectations. In addition, the brochure will offer suggestions on how homeowners can insulate older homes from sound.
All of this comes as the airport prepares to extend its runways to abide to Transport Canada’s new regulations that mandate the construction of a 300-metre overrun for all runways, a recommendation made in the aftermath of the Air France Flight 358 crash at Toronto in 2005.
Preparation for the South Runway and Crosswind Runway’s Runway End Safety Areas (RESA) construction process will begin this summer, with preload occurring from winter 2015 to spring 2016. Construction will occur in summer 2016 and 2017.
Airport officials note that there will be a three decibel noise increase at times in some parts of the Sea Island residential community of Burkeville, but it is unlikely the slight noise increase will be noticeable to the human ear.
Significant expenditures were made in 2012 to reduce aircraft noise emitting into Burkeville. The Airport Authority spent $12-million to construct a Ground Run-up Enclosure for planes to conduct loud engine tests.
In 2013, YVR saw over 300,000 aircraft movements and 17.97-million passengers. The official statistics for 2014 have yet to be released to the public, but late last year airport officials said they expect a year-end tally of 19.2-million passengers and more significant growth in 2015.
Feature Image: YVR Airport via Shutterstock