RM of Torch River proposing by-law to ban aircraft landing on RM roads

(Last Updated On: September 1, 2018)

At the August 13th, 2018 RM of Torch River council meeting, a motion was made to draft a by-law to ban aircraft from using RM roads, and set fines for anyone in violation of the proposed by-law.

The proposed by-law would be the first of it’s kind in the North East region of Saskatchewan, possibly in the entire province*.

The issued was raised at the July 16th, 2018 RM of Torch River Council meeting, when aerial spray plane business operator, Brennan Jardine, appeared before council to address complaints received about him by the council and RM office. The issue was listed on the council agenda as “Spray planes landing on RM Roads”, though the discussion that ensued indicated the complaints were not just restricted to the practice of landing and taking off on the grid roads in the RM.

While the complainant, nor the specifics of their complaints were divulged, Reeve Jerry Kindrat indicated to Mr. Jardine that the situation was a “confrontation between two neighbours“, and proposed that Mr. Jardine approach his neighbour and resolved the issue personally. Reeve Kindrat informed Mr. Jardine that the issue would be tabled until the August council meetings and if further complaints were received by council, further action would be considered by council.

Reeve Kindrat suggested to Mr Jardine that he cease flying off one specific road which he had indicated were cited in the complaints, the road Mr Jardine lives on. Mr Jardine agreed he would follow that recommendation.

We can table this until the next meeting. If we have to, we will bring forth policy.” Reeve Kindrat told Mr Jardine at the July meeting, “We don’t want to intervene unless we absolutely have to, but if we have to bring in a resolution, we will.”RM of Torch River Reeve Jerry Kindrat’s statement to Brennan Jardine at the July 2018 council meeting

As observed by Nipawin News, at the July meeting, the discussion among the council members included several reasons why they felt spray planes shouldn’t be using RM roads including;

  • the existing by-law that prevents anyone from blocking an RM road,
  • the concern that one person is using “our” property funded by taxpayers,
  • the perception that permitting spray planes to land on RM roads gives one business an unfair advantage over their competitors
  • general safety concerns (not specified)
  • noise issues
  • drifting (which occurs when product being sprayed can drift onto areas not being sprayed)

Why don’t they just fly out of Nipawin Airport or from private airstrips?

Reeve Kindrat also questioned if spray planes flying off of RM roads was even necessary, considering the recent changes to the Nipawin airport by-laws and the potential availability of private airstrips within the RM or build his own. 

Mr Jardine explained that, while the recent changes to the Nipawin airport by-laws has enabled him to use the airport as a base to fly out of, it is not an issue of convenience but rather practicality, particularly when spraying for customers in areas of the RM further away from the airport. 

Flying off of grid roads near the customer’s land enables me to reduce costs and pass that along to the farmers,” Jardine explained in his interview with Nipawin News, “it is also reduces the time spent scouting before spraying. If I have to drive to the field then drive over to the airport to fly out, that’s just more time spent and it means more cost to the farmers. The time saved may seem minimal now but if our local farmers had to deal with, say an infestation of army worms, that bit of time lost adds up to the chance that not all fields might get sprayed during a small window of opportunity.” Jardine added, “For some situations, that window can be as little as 24 hours

Piper Pawnee during a typical landing on a grid road in the RM of Torch River. The actual landing takes from 30 to 40 seconds and the plane occupies approximately 1 mile of road during takes offs and landings. 
In the case of Brennan Jardine Aerial Spraying, signage is posted at intersections to advise traffic and allow them to make the choice to wait or to take an alternate route.

Few private airstrips in the RM are suitable

Reeve Kindrat suggested Mr Jardine consider using private airstrips within the RM such as his father, Bud Jardine’s private strip. 

Mr Jardine explained that, while their are potentially a couple of airstrips that could be used occasionally, most of those where not suitable due to safety concerns, the most common issue being tall trees at the end of the airstrips that pose a safety hazard. The take off requirements for a spray plane loaded with product is longer than that of a typical private plane. He also pointed out that the practice of landing on the roads is actually a safety measure, because the roads are pre-selected based on their lack of hazards and high viability. 

Mr Jardine has considered building his own airstrip, however the cost to build one for his commercial use, compliant with Transport Canada’s standards would be not financially feasible. In addition, Mr Jardine pointed out that an airstrip near his property would not address complaints related to the noise. 

August motion to move forward with drafting the by-law unexpected

At the July meeting, Mr Jardine had requested, should there be further complaints, that the RM contact him to allow him the ability to address them, as Reeve Kindrat had indicated he should be doing.

Mr Jardine stated to Nipawin News that, about 1 week prior to the August council meeting, he made contact with RM office staff and some Councillors to determine if there were further complaints lodged. He stated he was informed that, at that time, no further complaints had been received that the office staff was aware of, though complaints that may have been made directly to councilors or the reeve. It was suggested he should contact them to verify if they had received any complaints that they had not yet informed the administration of.

Believing there were no further complaints and the issue would not be carried forward by the council, and being a busy time of year for his business, Mr Jardine did not request to appear as a delegation for the subsequent August meeting.

They told me if there were further complaints, they would do that, (contact him to address them),” Mr Jardine told Nipawin News in an interview, “I called Nathalie about a week ago and no complaints had been made. They were supposed to phone if there where any complaints. They are not doing their part, they are not allowing me to address this. They made it clear that was what they wanted me to do and I agreed I would.” Statement made by Brennan Jardine to Nipawin News following the August 13th, 2018 council meeting.

According to Mr Jardine, he had refrained from using the road that was the subject of earlier complaints, however he continued to fly off other roads in the course of his business.

The RM of Torch River has been contacted for an official statement, however no response has been received by Nipawin News as of publication of the article. 

In a phone interview with Nipawin News after the August meeting, RM Administrator, Nathalie Hipkins, confirmed that a motion had been passed directing her to draft a proposed by-law that would ban “aircraft” from using RM roads and set a schedule of fines for breeches of the proposed by-law. Although she could not supply the exact wording of the motion at the time, she indicated that prior to finalizing the proposed by-law, it would need to be sent to the RM lawyer for review. When asked if the by-law would be ready for the September 10th meeting, she indicated she could not confirm that and stated there was a possibility it would not be ready to put before council at that time. Ms. Hipkins also confirmed that at least one more complaint had been made that she was aware of but could not provide details, including nature of the complaint, for confidentiality reasons.

Pilots concerned precedent set could reach far beyond the RM of Torch River

While several pilots, actively involved in the aerial application (spray plane) industry, agreed to speak to Nipawin News, all declined to be quoted due to their concerns regarding their businesses being affected by speaking up. But all contacted by Nipawin News expressed a common concern.

Should the proposed by-law be passed in the RM of Torch River, it sets a precedent that could lead to similar by-laws being passed in other rural municipalities in the province.

Being able to land and take off on rural roads may not be a huge concern for farmers close to an airport or suitable private airstrip, but many farmers in the province could feel a significant financial impact, should other RM’s choose to follow suit. 

Ratepayers and north east residents speak up

In response to a call for ratepayer input from Nipawin News, a heated conversation ensued. 

Comments from RM of Torch River ratepayers as well as individuals from outside the RM where mostly against the proposed by-law, and many felt is was unnecessary.

These guys have a small window during a couple months of the year to get the spraying done for farmers. Making them fly all the way back to an airport to fuel up & re-fill will only make that “window” longer and increase costs for the pilot who has no choice but to increase his costs to the farmer as well. This is part of living in a rural agricultural area

It would seem to me to leave it alone , I don’t think anyone has been hurt , and the extra cost would be put back on the people getting the job done . Then there would be the extra time cost to get the job done . Seems a little crazy.

This is the most ridiculous situation I’ve ever heard of, planes have been landing on these roads for years because it benefits the farmer and the sprayer. So because a few immature men who are behaving like playground bullies complain for the sole purpose of hurting someone’s business the RM decides to take sides? That’s just shameful, and in my opinion an abuse of power

Supporters of the proposed by-law were not well represented in the conversation but a couple of people did speak up. 

The farmer does pay taxes to rm on there land they farm
The roads weren’t build for airplanes. There is a lot of difference
between farm machinery

This situation is a bit different than someone landing because they are spraying in a particular area for the day. Think about it people. The RM road in question is not an airstrip for someone’s use on a daily basis. I am more than shocked for the support of this, and if you are so concerned and upset by this stop and think if you would want this on your road next to your acreage. “On a daily basis”!!! Oh and by the way, what happened to the posts that are opposed to this??? Interesting!!!Editor’s note: Clarification – No posts or comments where deleted by Nipawin News Facebook Admin

Next RM of Torch River Council Meeting set for September 10th, 2018 

The next RM of Torch River council meeting will be on Monday September 10th, 2018. Any ratepayers or concerned parties wishing to address council regarding the proposed by-law must notify the RM office in advance and be listed on the agenda as a delegation.

You can also express your opinion or concerns by contacting the RM in person, by phone, email or in writing. Full contact information is available on their web site

*RE: “The proposed by-law would be the first of it’s kind in the North East region of Saskatchewan, possibly in the entire province*”   As of publication September 1st, 2018, research by Nipawin News has not found any Rural Municipalities in the province of Saskatchewan that have enacted a by-law that bans aircraft from landing on RM roads. Anything to the contrary discovered as I continue to research that fact will result in an update and clarification to this article. 

DISCLOSURE: Brennan Jardine Aerial Spraying is an existing advertiser on Nipawin News. Our business relationship with Mr Jardine was not a factor in the decision to publish this article, nor has any special consideration been given to Mr Jardine in the matter. A The RM of Torch River was given 5 business days to respond to the matter with an official statement no response was received. Statements from the complainant(s) could not be obtained because the names can not be divulged by the RM to protect their right to privacy.  Anyone wishing to contribute a point of view, either in favour of, or opposing the proposed by-law have been, and continue to be, encouraged to contact myself privately should they wish to remain anonymous in publication. Confidential communications will only be considered with contact information. (You must be willing to identify yourself to me, even if you wish to remain confidential)


Post Author: Joanne Francis

Joanne Francis is the Editor and Journalist for Nipawin News