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Changes proposed for flight arrivals over White Rock, Surrey

NavCan, Vancouver Airport Authority to host public meeting Jan. 19
NavCan says proposed approach changes for the Lower Mainland could catch the eye of South Surrey and White Rock residents. ( screenshot)

Changes proposed for planes approaching Vancouver International Airport have some Semiahmoo Peninsula residents concerned about increased air traffic over their seaside neighbourhoods.

“The big change is to basically move a lot of the flights from the far side of Boundary Bay to basically right over Ocean Park and Crescent Beach,” Don Pitcairn, who lives near 24 Avenue and 124 Street, said Monday (Jan. 16).

“So it’s basically going to be like going to the air show when you’re going to Crescent Beach.”

Nav Canada, in collaboration with Vancouver Airport Authority, is hosting a meeting this Thursday (Jan. 19), from 5-8 p.m., at the White Rock Community Centre to share details of proposed changes.

The meeting is part of public consultation efforts that began Dec. 6, 2022 to gather feedback on plans for approach procedures at YVR, including changes to existing arrival routes and the introduction of “new, modern arrival procedures, known as Required Navigation Performance Authorization Required (RNP AR).”

RNP AR enables the design of shorter, more direct routes, “enabling aircraft to turn towards the airport sooner,” NavCan explains in advertising the Jan. 19 meeting.

The changes “will support environmental sustainability efforts by reducing greenhouse gases and the overflight of residential areas where practicable,” the explanation continues.

“If implemented, some residents may observe changes to air traffic patterns.”

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Pitcairn – who was a member of the Nav Canada Working Group that formed in Surrey in 2008 in response to flight-path changes that were implemented without consultation – said the new path is satellite-guided, “so planes will be flying in one spot, one after another after another.”

If put into practice, “it’s going to be constant planes flying over, over, over, all day long,” he said.

Area resident Rolf Kinskofer remembers it was “a hell of a time to get them to try and change some of the routes” the last time the issue arose.

“They were just flying over our heads,” he said. “I remember, a couple times I dropped to the ground.”

While the proposed changes are “not as much as before,” Kinskofer wants to know more.

Pitcairn said “half the Lower Mainland” will be affected to some degree. He said he has “a long list” of questions for the meeting hosts, including what the implications are for older planes that are not equipped with the new navigation system.

“That’s the big question, the elephant in the room,” he said.

The community centre is located at 15154 Russell Ave.

Feedback is being collected through Feb. 3. General information sessions are also being held virtually, and feedback may also be submitted online. Visit for more information.
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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