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Residents take airport grievance to auditor-general

Want probe into expansion. Supreme Court nixed coalition's request to launch class-action suit against ADM


The Gazette

Published: 9 hours ago


A coalition of Montreal residents has appealed to the auditor-general to investigate Trudeau Airport and what the coalition sees as unchecked expansion that does not consider impact on the environment or the quality of life of thousands of Montrealers.


In a petition delivered yesterday to Sheila Fraser, Citizens for Quality of Life asked for an investigation into grievances that date back to 1995, when flights were transferred from Mirabel to Dorval without, the coalition says, public consultation.


Night flights, the loss of green space to airport expansion, an increasing number of flight traffic and noise pollution are all cited in the petition.


But like other Canadian airport authorities, Aéroports de Montréal is private and therefore outside the auditor-general's purview.


Ghislain Desjardins, a spokesperson in the auditor-general's office, said that while the Dorval airport authority cannot be audited, its 60-year lease with Transport Canada can.


However, Desjardins noted, any new audit would not happen immediately. Audit reports of federal departments and crown corporations that are already planned take the office into 2010.


The coalition alleges Transport Canada failed to appropriately monitor the environmental clauses in its long-term lease with ADM.


Copied to more than 40 elected officials, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, the petition targets the $1.5 billion in airport expansions that have taken place since 1996.


Luc Marion, president of the coalition representing residents in eight Montreal municipalities, including Dorval, St. Laurent, Lachine and Lasalle, said the group was forced to go to the auditor-general after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to grant its request to launch a class-action lawsuit against ADM.


"We are questioning the manner in which ADM has been able to move from Mirabel to Dorval, expand as it has without (looking at) the environmental impact now, 20 and 30 years from now," Marion said.


There were 543 daily aircraft movements at Dorval airport in 1995, the year before flights were moved back there from Mirabel, Marion said.


By 2007, that number had jumped to 666 a day. Marion said if ADM projections of the airport's growth are accurate, the number would reach 716 by 2010 and 864 by 2015.


"We are not going to let another 200 planes fly over our heads a day," Marion said.


- - -

Dorval's airport is getting busier


Daily aircraft movements at Dorval's airport


1966 345


1995 543


2007 666


2010* 716


2015* 864


*Projected figures


Source: Citizens for quality of life

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