Development rules could be relaxed for thousands of flight path properties

Restrictions that limit the types of development on nearly 23,000 Calgary properties could soon be relaxed.

Since 1979, the Airport Vicinity Protection Area (AVPA) has dictated what can and cannot be built in communities under flight paths to and from the Calgary airport.

After several years of preparation and study, a Calgary city council committee has approved amendments that could lead to an update of the AVPA.

The proposal is to change noise contour lines, which would permit more development in areas that were previously restricted.

In total, 22,921 properties would be removed from AVPA restrictions. Nearly 21,000 of those are residential zoned properties.

It’s being proposed that 2,029 other properties would soon have AVPA restrictions applied to them. 

Most of those properties are in northeast communities like Rundle, Whitehorn, Dover and Albert Park ,which have seen an increase in air traffic due to the opening of a new north-south runway in 2014. 

In total, 22,921 properties would be removed from Airport Vicinity Protection Area restrictions. (City of Calgary)

Most noisy older planes gone

A noise contour map spells out the restrictions along approaches to YYC.

The greater the noise level from passing planes, the tighter the restrictions are in a given area.

Due to runway changes and improvements in airplane technology since 1979, amendments are being proposed to the provincial regulation.

The rules were put in place to limit the exposure people have to airplane noise and to help protect the airport from encroaching development which might restrict its future operations.

The Calgary Airport Authority is on side with the updates to the AVPA.

Secondary suites weren’t allowed in some areas

The chair of council’s planning and urban development committee, Coun. Jyoti Gondek, said the changes to the AVPA are long overdue.

“Things have changed a lot since 1979,” said Gondek. 

“There are much quieter planes now. There are different runway configurations and frankly, as the airport has made its business more efficient, we are seeing that we might not have to maintain some of the restrictions we had in the past.”

She said under the AVPA, some areas weren’t allowed to have secondary suites and redevelopment permit applications were refused.

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said the development restrictions can be loosened in places like Inglewood as aircraft noise today isn’t the same as it was in the 1970s.

However, that doesn’t mean that the AVPA should be done away with entirely.

“We want to protect our airport because our inland port function and a strong airport are deeply connected to our economic diversification goals,” said Carra.

City council will discuss the proposed changes at its meeting on Sept. 14. 

If approved, the AVPA regulation could be amended by the provincial government.

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