The Richmond Chamber of Commerce is the driving force behind a bold bid to free up the marketplace in the skies above the city, B.C. and Canada.
Alongside the Vancouver Board of Trade, the chamber managed to convince their national body - the Canadian Chamber of Commerce - to adopt a policy at its AGM on Monday in Kelowna which advocates for an "open skies" policy for airline access to Canada.
The chamber insists that opening up the market to even just one new 777 cargo flight per day could create 1,700 labour hours or 310 family-supporting jobs.
Currently, that market is heavily restricted by the government's current "blue sky" policy which severely limits the amount of passenger and freight traffic which can come in and out of YVR, according to the chamber.
"There are flights from places such as Asia coming in and out of our airport here, but there could be even more if the policy was changed," Howard Harowitz, chair of Richmond Chamber of Commerce's policy advisory committee, told the News.
"Canada is a trading nation, including tourism and freight, we're an open economy and having free flow of goods and services is critical, yet we have policies in place that restrict that flow."
Now that they have the ear of their national chamber - although it took some convincing the 600-plus delegates over the weekend - Harowitz said it opens the door for the organization to put some serious lobbying pressure on Ottawa to re-think its policy on flight restrictions.
"We hope it will also galvanize our many local chambers across the country to lobby their MPs and business communities," said Horowitz.
"The more pressure we can put on the government, the more chance we have of affecting change."
However, this change will also put more pressure on the environment, according to the Suzuki Foundation.
"Although aviation is a relatively small industry, it has a disproportionately large impact on the climate system. It accounts for four to nine per cent of the total climate change impact of human activity.
"A special characteristic of aircraft emissions is that most of them are produced at cruising altitudes high in the atmosphere. Scientific studies have shown that these high-altitude emissions have a more harmful climate impact because they trigger a series of chemical reactions and atmospheric effects that have a net warming effect," states the foundation's website. It's estimated that the climate impact of aircraft is two to four times greater than the effect of their carbon dioxide emissions alone.
However, as far as trade is concerned, aviation restrictions are "driving both cargo and travellers across the border to U.S. airports and costing our economy dearly," said Vancouver Board of Trade President and CEO Iain Black.
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