Runway Extensions Assessment

The 20 Year Airport Master Plan identified the need to extend the existing runways. Extending the runways will:

  • Enhance safety and reliability for aircraft;
  • Improve the customer experience;
  • Attract newer, larger aircraft and more airlines; and,
  • Improve overall use and flexibility for airlines.

Stage 1 of the Master Plan includes completing a Runway Extensions Assessment project. Preliminary information on this project was provided in two Public Consultation Centre (PCC) meetings, held on June 20 and Oct. 24, 2019. Please download the information packages for details.

Submit Runway Extensions Assessment Feedback

On August 28, 2019 the Impact Assessment Act (IAA) was enacted and the Impact Agency of Canada (IAAC) was formed. The IAA is an update to the federal consultation process that focuses on health, social and economic impacts. The Region of Waterloo International Airport runway extensions project is subject to this act. 

As part of Impact Assessment Process the IAAC hosted two virtual information sharing sessions in September 2020. 

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) Virtual Information Sharing Sessions (September 8, 2020)

On August 28, 2019 the Impact Assessment Act (IAA) was enacted and the Impact Agency of Canada (IAAC) was formed. The IAA is an update to the federal consultation process that focuses on health, social and economic impacts. The Region of Waterloo International Airport runway extensions project is subject to this act. 

Due to COVID-19 and the associated physical distancing and self-isolation measures, the Agency hosted two virtual information sharing and discussion sessions on September 8, 2020. The objectives of the sessions were to help better understand how to participate in the upcoming impact assessment process, and to hear any comments on the Project to inform the proponent’s Initial Project Description. Each session included a presentation by representatives from the Agency and the Region of Waterloo International Airport. Participants had the opportunity to ask questions.

Project Information

Why extend the runways?

Currently, Runway 14-32 can accommodate light general aviation aircraft and flight training activity. Runway 08-26 can accommodate larger narrow-body aircraft (i.e. Boeing 737 aircraft with one aisle). Wide-body aircraft (i.e. Boeing 767 aircraft with two aisles) cannot use the airport at this time, and there is no secondary option for narrow-body aircraft. This restricts larger aircraft from operating in poor weather conditions, such as rain, ice or high winds.

Extending Runway 14-32 to a length of 2,134 metres (7,000 feet) will improve the safety and reliability of the airport. When Runway 08-26 has strong cross-winds combined with wet or icy conditions, larger narrow-body aircraft would be able to land on Runway 14-32. Additionally, scheduled air service could use Runway 14-32 when Runway 08-26 is closed for repairs.

Extending Runway 08-26 to a length of 2,663 metres (8,737 feet) will reduce the restrictions on larger aircraft operating in poor weather. It will also allow wide-body aircraft to use the airport, which need the extended length.

What does the runway extensions design include?

The runway extensions design generally includes the following:

  • Extend Runway 14 by 555 metres (1,820 feet) (northwest towards Breslau);
  • Extend Runway 32 by 329 metres (1,080 feet) (southeast towards Cambridge);
  • Extend Runway 26 by 529 metres (1,737 feet) (west towards Guelph);
  • Construct taxiways parallel to the runway extensions;
  • Construct access roads around the runway extensions;
  • Move Runway 26 approach lighting;
  • Install new approach lighting for Runway 14;
  • Move or upgrade other visual aids;
  • Move or tunnel Shantz Station Road; and,
  • Upgrade how aircraft manuever around airport

View drawing of proposed Region of Waterloo International Airport runway extensions.

What is the process for the Runway Extensions Assessment project?

The Region will follow the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) process. The runway extensions trigger this process because the size of aircraft will increase.

What are the potential impacts of implementing these runway extensions?
Extending the runways may have the following potential impacts:
  • Update Airport Zoning Regulations;
  • Removal of trees and other potential obstacles;
  • Buy property for runway extensions;
  • Natural environment;
  • Archaeological resources;
  • Heritage resources;
  • Contaminated soil/groundwater; and,
  • Noise.

The Region has begun the process of updating the current Airport Zoning Regulations. This process will include an assessment of obstacles that interfere with the AZRs. Visit our Airport Zoning Regulation page for an explanation of AZRs.

Is any private property required for this project?

One goal of the planning process is to limit the impact to adjacent properties and the need to buy land. The Region owns the land required for all runway extensions and parallel taxiways. However, additional adjacent land may help limit the impact to airport operations.

Natural environment considerations

The Runway 14-32 extensions will impact the east branch of the Randall Drain, some wetlands, and potential wildlife, fish and species at risk habitat. The Runway 26 extension will impact the east branch of the Randall Drain and some species at risk habitat.

View a drawing of the significant wildlife and fish habitat areas.

To determine the best mitigation measures, more investigation and consultation with approval agencies is required. Mitigation measures and compensation will be considered, including:

  • Scheduling construction work to avoid critical breeding or migration periods;
  • Erosion and sediment control;
  • Re-vegetation/compensation; and,
  • Fencing.
Archaeological resource considerations

Consultants have completed a Stage 1 archaeological investigation. This is a desktop study of known and potential areas of archaeological interest. Several additional areas are recommended for a Stage 2 field investigation. This will consist of a walking survey and/or hand test pits to determine if any buried archaeological resources exist. 

Heritage considerations

Consultants have completed a Built Heritage and Cultural Heritage Landscape Assessment. No heritage resources are directly impacted. The airport may fence or screen the runways from potential heritage resources.

View a drawing of the built and cultural heritage consideration findings.

 Contaminated soil or groundwater considerations

Consultants have completed a desktop investigation of past land use. Due to old fuel tanks, possible spills, etc. contaminated soil may exist. A geotechnical investigation will be completed to assess the soil and groundwater conditions. This will determine if excess soil requires proper disposal offsite, or if groundwater requires pumping and treatment.

View a drawing of the contaminated soil or groundwater considerations.

Will the runway extensions increase noise? 

The 2017 Airport Master Plan developed Noise Exposure Forecasts (NEF) for the year 2035. This forecast included the future Runway 14, 26 and 32 extensions.

View a drawing of the comparison between the current 2000 NEF and the future 2035 NEF.

The NEF contour comparison shows that noise will be similar, with increases in some areas and decreases in others. In general, noise in Kitchener and Breslau is not expected to increase beyond the current 2000 NEF.

The impact of NEF contours can generally be summarized as follows:

  • 25 NEF – impacts to areas sensitive to noise, some annoyance to residential areas;
  • 30 NEF – impacts to residential areas, some speech interference; and,
  • 35 NEF – impacts to most land uses.

Residential development is not permitted within the 30 NEF contour of the current 2000 NEF.

Shantz Station Road considerations 

Construction of the Runway 26 extension will affect Shantz Station Road. The road will impede the extension, as it would be within the Runway End Safety Area and would not meet Transport Canada standards.

The Region is investigating workable options for Shantz Station Road Through a Regional road network study. Two potential solutions for Shantz Station Road are:

  • Tunnel Shantz Station Road; or,
  • Realign Shantz Station Road..

Both of these create significant impacts to adjacent landowners and the surrounding environment. This project will need a dedicated environmental assessment with extensive public consultation.

Implementation of the Runway 26 extension is not expected in the near future, estimated to start 2025 or later. Construction will not start until the Airport reaches 500,000 annual passengers in accordance with the Stage 3 trigger of the Airport Master Plan.

 What is the estimated cost of this project?
The Region has budgeted:
  • $23,000,000 to construct the Runway 14-32 extension; and,
  • $11,500,000 to construct the Runway 08-26 extension, excluding Shantz Station Road.
 What are the next steps?
The Project Team will review the comments received and use them as input to complete the Runway Extensions Assessment Project. The Project Team will present a recommendation to Regional Council by the end of 2020.

Pending approval by Regional Council:

  • Detailed design of the Runway 14-32 extensions would take place throughout 2020.
  • Construction of the Runway 14-32 extensions would begin when Stage 2 is triggered (250,000 annual passengers, anticipated 2022).
  • Detailed design of the Runway 26 extension would begin when Stage 2 is triggered (250,000 annual passengers, anticipated 2022).
  • Construction of the Runway 26 extension would begin when Stage 3 is triggered (500,000 annual passengers, anticipated 2025).

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