06/17/2015 13:34 EDT | Updated 06/17/2016 01:12 EDT

Transport minister says public should have voice on changes to flight paths

OTTAWA - The federal government wants to give people living under flight paths the chance to have their voices heard over the din of passing aircraft.Residents in affected communities will now be included in consultations and deliberations about shifting flight paths at major airports.The new rules went into effect on Wednesday.Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said she expects every airport in the country to follow the spirit and intent of the new rules when making decisions about the routes planes fly, whether it's a change to flight paths to Toronto Pearson International, or to Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto's island."We expect that you're going to implement this protocol so we can avoid the disaster that has happened with the implementation of new flight routes in the Toronto Pearson area," Raitt told reporters in Ottawa.She said many residents who live under those flight paths have been frustrated that their voices weren`t heard when changes were made in the past.Previously, airports only had to ask for input from anyone living within 10 nautical miles — or about 18 kilometres — of an airport.If anyone farther away had issues, there was little they could do. The federal government could only shift a flight path if there was a safety problem and Nav Canada, the private body charged with navigating all flights in Canadian airspace, didn't have to consult the public on changes, Raitt said.When asked what would happen if airports didn't follow the new rules, Raitt said residents should call her directly "and we'll have a conversation with the airports."