In Toronto expansion of lakeside Billy Bishop airport is strenuously opposed by thousands whose lives it would adversely affect
Date added: December 9, 2013
Pearson airport is the main airport for Toronto. It has several long runways, can take large jets, and had around 35 million passengers in the past year. By contrast, Billy Bishop waterfront airport is tiny, lying along the lake edge close to central Toronto. Its one runway, by the water, is only about 1,200 metres and it had 2 million passengers last year. There are plans to greatly expand Billy Bishop airport, with the runway extended by 200 metres at both ends, to take jets rather than the current turboprops. There are plans for greatly increased numbers of passengers. There has been very vocal opposition from the local group, NoJetsTO, who fear having this enlarged airport will have highly negative impacts on the city, creating noise, air pollution, water pollution, disruption to leisure activities that take place on the lake, traffic congestion, interference with childrens’ learning in school, and lowering the quality of life of many living in the area. They say the large jets should stay at Pearson airport, which is well equipped to deal with them. Now the airport’s plans, by Porter Airlines, will not be considered by the city until February. Toronto city’s executive committee voted to defer debate of the controversial proposal till February 4 or to a specially called meeting. . Tweet
Map showing location of Billy Bishop airport
A bit of background on Billy Bishop airport, Toronto
Billy Bishop airport is located on the Toronto Islands, south-west of Downtown Toronto. The airport has one main east-west runway, two shorter runways, and a seaplane base, Billy Bishop Toronto City Water Aerodrome. The airport is used for regional airline service and for general aviation, including medical emergency flights (due to its proximity to downtown hospitals), small charter flights, and private aviation. Under its operating agreement, jet aircraft are banned from the airport, with the exception of MEDEVAC flights.
The airport is operated by the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), a Government Business Enterprise incorporated by letters patent issued under authority of the Canada Marine Act. The airport is classified as an airport of entry by Nav Canada and is staffed by the Canada Border Services Agency. The airport’s hours of operation are 6:45 am to 11:00 pm, except for MEDEVAC flights. Passenger traffic increased 46% from 2009 to 2010.
In April 2013, Porter announced a conditional purchase of 12 Bombardier CS100 passenger jets, with an option to purchase 18 more. Porter president Robert Deluce announced that the airline would seek an extension of the main runway by 336 m, 168 metres (551 ft) at either end, to accommodate the longer landing and takeoff requirements of the aircraft. The airline would also seek an exemption for the CS100 aircraft from the jet ban at the airport imposed in the 1983 Tripartite Agreement of the airport. The changes would require the agreement of the Government of Canada, the Toronto Port Authority and the City of Toronto. The TPA announced that it would await the direction of Toronto City Council on the potential expansion.A new community group “NoJetsTO” was formed to collect opposition to the plan to allow jets at the airport. The City of Toronto started consultations in September 2013, both online and at “town hall” sessions, to produce a report from staff for presentation to Council. As consultations began, Porter increased its request to 200 metre extensions at each end of the runway. The Toronto Port Authority notified the City of Toronto that it was seeking an extension to the tripartite agreement beyond 2033 as a condition of the runway extension plan.
The staff report was released to the public on November 28, 2013 and staff recommended putting off consideration of the plan until 2015, due to incomplete information and the various unresolved issues, including the CS100 noise information, Transport Canada regulations, and Toronto Port Authority requirements. The report also noted that the airport does not have a “Master Plan” unlike other airports, and staff suggested is essential for consideration to extend the tripartite agreement. The plan is to be discussed by the City Council executive committee and full Council in December 2013. The board of Waterfront Toronto endorsed the report, stating “serious transportation, road congestion, and community impact issues created by the airport’s current operations” be addressed before any new plans are considered.
Island airport expansion dreams are city’s nightmare: Hume
Porter Airlines may be a city asset, but one that pales in comparison to the waterfront
A plane comes in to land at Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island. Porter Airline’s wish to use jets would require runway extensions, a move that is running into opposition. By COLIN MCCONNELL / TORONTO STAR
When the board of Waterfront Toronto endorsed a city report that recommends against approving the expansion of Billy Bishop Airport until 2015, it introduced a note of sanity into the madness now unfolding at the foot of Bathurst St.
Though Porter Airlines founder Robert Deluce would have us believe that his delusions of jet-fuelled grandeur are compatible with waterfront revitalization, they are anything but.
Indeed, his arguments, which are full of half-truths and unquestioned assumptions, are transparently self-serving and wholly inconsistent with the interests of Toronto.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly may support expansion, but he will live to regret that. In truth, Deluce’s intentions would spell disaster, not just for the waterfront, but the larger city.
To begin with, allowing jets to operate at the Island Airport would be incredibly dangerous; there simply isn’t enough space for jets to take off and land safely and besides, there’s a bird sanctuary just east. Anyone who remembers the Miracle on the Hudson in 2009 knows the impact a bird strike can have.
Worse still, Billy Bishop, unlike other airports, doesn’t have a usable north/south runway. The main east/west landing strip works under most, but not all, conditions. Lengthening the north/south runway to accommodate headwinds would mean taking over parkland.
Even if Deluce’s revamped airport meets minimal safety requirements, the margin of error is disturbingly small. Billy Bishop’s main runway is less than 4,000 feet (1,200 metres), maybe 5,200 after expansion. The CSeries jetliners need a minimum of 4,000 feet to take off and 4,400 to land. However, at their maximum weight, they need 4,800 to take off, and 4,400 to land.
Interestingly, the jet’s manufacturer, Bombardier, operates a 7,000-foot runway at Downsview. And if a crash were to occur at Billy Bishop, could the airport respond quickly and effectively?
But for Kelly, blithely unconcerned about safety, the issue is economic; he sees the Island Airport as a financial asset whose value we have yet to fully exploit. Deluce likes to say that the economic impact of his airline is $1.5 billion annually. That number, highly suspect, pales in comparison to many billions a revitalized waterfront will add to the city.
In other words, Kelly’s argument is a good reason for not expanding Billy Bishop. But Deluce has never relied on rational thought to make his case. While the Waterfront Toronto board was meeting Monday afternoon, he was busy lobbying the deputy mayor in his city hall office.
“How did we get in this position?” asked former Toronto chief planner and WT director Gary Wright at the same meeting. “Some things just intuitively don’t make sense. Are there better things to spend scarce public money on than Billy Bishop?”
Another WT director, former city councillor Joe Pantalone, said approving Deluce’s request would be like “jumping off a cliff.” Such a decision, he insisted, “would be foolhardy.”
Ross McGregor, also a director, was “tempted to reject outright the proposed expansion.”
But the loudest applause went to board member and Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy. “I’d like to hear from the children,” he said in reference to pupils at The Waterfront School, located a stone’s throw from the airport. “They should be part of this.”
Already those kids are breathing some of the most polluted air in the city and dodging traffic to get to and from classes. Some Deluce supporters have even suggested the school be torn down to make way for airport parking.
If ever there was a case of putting planes before people, this is it. To accede to Deluce and his monomaniacal demands would cost the city billions. It’s simply not worth the price.
Toronto committee delays debate on controversial island airport expansion plans
by ELIZABETH CHURCH AND KALEIGH ROGERS
(The Toronto Globe and Mail)
Porter Airlines expansion plans for Toronto’s Island airport will not be considered by the city until the new year.
The city’s executive committee voted to defer debate of the controversial proposal to bring jets to the waterfront airport until their next meeting on February 4 or to a special meeting to be called by the chair.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, chairing the meeting for the first time since he was given most of the Mayor’s powers by council, put forward the motion saying the extra time would allow for more information to be gathered.
Only two members of the committee voted against the delay – Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Peter Milczyn.
Mr. Ford, who was relegated to a seat between councillors Peter Leon and Frank Di Giorgio, said waiting a month to have the debate would not change anything. “You are either for or against it,” he said.
Mr. Milczyn argued that enough time had been spent on the issue, saying the report should be shelved.
The decision to defer the debate was the first major move by Mr. Kelly in his new role as the de facto leader of council. As he entered the committee room before the vote, Mr. Kelly pledged to keep focused on the city’s business in spite of the new bombshell allegations involving Mr. Ford and his involvement with hard drugs and gangs.
“The mayor is no longer at the centre of affairs here at the city so I see this as a personal issue and not a political one,” he said. “The government of the City of Toronto goes on unaffected.”
After the vote, Porter Airlines CEO Robert Deluce said he was still encouraged by the support he’s gotten from councillors. He said if the executive wants a little more time to bring all the parties to the table and find solutions to the lingering questions outlined by city staff – among them noise, traffic and health impacts – he supports the decision.
“I think the step that was taken today is an important one and the proper one to take,” Mr. Deluce said. “There certainly are solutions to any of the items that have been identified by city staff and they’re not anywhere near as big as what would be indicated by some of the opponents.”
As he spoke, a group of citizens opposed to the expansion who had attended the meeting watched, sometimes shouting out jeers at Mr. Deluce.
Councillor Adam Vaughan, an opponent of the expansion who represents the downtown ward that includes the airport, said despite the delay, the answer when executive committee brings the report to council will still be “no.”
“There is no will because there is no way to make this situation work,” he told reporters outside of the meeting.
“This project has never about whether or not the jets are quiet enough – we don’t know, they’ve only been tested once – it has always been about whether or not you can fit an airport the size of Ottawa International Airport on the waterfront without a massive, and I mean a massive, half-billion plus investment.”
Toronto’s Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly will move to defer considering Porter Airline’s request to expand the Billy Bishop Airport for as long as a month, to buy time to deal with the myriad of issues raised about the proposal in a staff report.
Kelly announced his intentions Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 4, in advance of Thursday’s meeting of Toronto’s executive committee.
“At the meeting tomorrow of the executive committee I shall be moving to defer consideration of the report to either the first executive committee meeting in the new year or a meeting called by the chair,” said Kelly, who will himself be chairing Thursday’s meeting, the first since Mayor Rob Ford was stripped of his powers by Toronto Council.
The question of what to do with the Island airport was to have been a major debate at the committee.
Last week, city staff came out with a report cautioning against proceeding with a plan to extend the runways and allowing the airport to accommodate jet aircraft.
The report indicated there are too many unanswered questions.
Noise testing on the new jets Porter is proposing to fly won’t be finished until May, and the Toronto Port Authority — which operates the airport — has not presented a long-term plan for the airport. As well, it’s unclear who would pay for the $300 million in transportation infrastructure that would be necessary land-side to support an expanded airport.
Staff have recommended deferring the matter until the spring of 2015, when hopefully some of those matters can be clarified.
But Porter’s Bob Deluce has been lobbying councillors hard to go ahead with the plan now — arguing that expanding the regional airline to allow for longer hauls is essential to the airport’s survival.
Kelly, who supports the Porter plan, had been trying to convince councillors to support a conditional approval of the plan, but on Wednesday he said that he was making “a lateral maneuver” for fear that council might kill the plan altogether if it went through.
“You want to bring as many people as possible along with you,” said Kelly.
“You want, to the degree that you can, build a consensus among the people that are your supporters…. I think that this is an important initiative for the City of Toronto, and I don’t want to miss the opportunity of growing one of our most important assets. I don’t want to risk its defeat.”
Kelly met for the first time with Mayor Rob Ford since council transferred most of the mayor’s powers to the deputy mayor, and the two discussed Kelly’s plan.
The mayor was not supportive.
“Porter Airlines are a reputable company, they proved they can do it,” Ford said. “Let’s get on with it. I’m going to move a motion to go ahead with it and you’re either on side or not on side.”
Ford said he has been getting calls urging support for the airport expansion, and said a month-long delay wouldn’t resolve anything.
“Let these quiet jets get in here and let this man get direct flights down to Houston instead of stopping over in Chicago like I had to,” he said.
Ford said he trusted Deluce not to leave the city holding the bag on infrastructure requirements.
“Mr. Deluce is a proven businessman,” said Ford. “I don’t think he’s going to stick us with a bill of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Reporters caught up with Deluce as he was between meetings at Toronto City Hall. He offered no comment on the matter, but said he would do so Thursday following the meeting.
NoJetsTO is a coalition of concerned citizens dedicated to preserving Toronto’s mixed-use waterfront and a boutique Island Airport. Representing residents across Toronto, the non-partisan organization NoJetsTO opposes the expansion of the Island Airport through jet aircraft and extended runways. NoJetsTO’s goal is to preserve the current state of the Island Airport by protecting the Tripartite Agreement that governs it.
To reiterate, we are NOT opposed to the status quo at the Island Airport. We are opposed to turning the Island Airport into a Pearson-on-the-Lake.
Toronto’s cherished waterfront is at risk. Porter-owner Robert Deluce wants jets on our waterfront to maximize his profits. He is only a City Council vote away from making it happen – if we don’t stop him.
Jets belong at Pearson – not our waterfront. But Porter wants to turn the boutique Island Airport into a Pearson-by-the-Lake with jets, extended runways and almost twice as many passengers.
Toronto’s Island Airport as a boutique, regional airport is fine. What we don’t need is a Pearson-by-the-Lake.
Jets on Our Waterfront = More Pollution, More Gridlock, Less Fun
Toronto’s waterfront is our biggest asset – stretching from Mimico to the Scarborough Bluffs. And jets will wreck it. The Harbourfront alone attracts 17 million visitors every year. It’s our front yard and fun getaway.
Revitalizing our waterfront has created 40,000 jobs and $3.2 billion in economic benefits; another $4 billion are projected.
The plan to double passenger numbers at the Island Airport will lead to 1.4 million additional cars in downtown, making gridlock even worse.
Expanding the runway will mean less Lake Ontario to enjoy. It will impact tour boats, sailboats, kayaks and even ferries.
Air pollution will affect neighbourhoods from Etobicoke to Scarborough. Property prices and tourism will take a hit. For our waterfront, jets will mean more pollution, more gridlock – and less fun. Read more.
Putting Our Health at Risk
Jets are bad for your health – study after study shows that. Less fuel efficient than the turboprops, they burn more fuel less cleanly. No wonder – the Bombardier CS100 is twice as heavy as the current Q400 turboprop plane.
Jet pollutants are linked to increased rates of cancer, asthma and bronchitis as well as other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Some jet pollutants are linked to developmental problems in children, tripling the odds of having mental delays at age 3.
Numerous Toronto physicians are speaking out against the jet plans – because they know how dangerous they will be for our health and especially the health of our children.
With flight paths from Mimico to the Scarborough Bluffs, many Torontonians will be affected by the pollution. Read more.
Creating Safety and Environmental Hazards
Jets on Toronto Island will be a safety hazard – with bird strikes just waiting to happen from hundreds of thousands of birds from the surrounding green spaces
Fuel gets to the Island Airport by truck – put on ferries. Four times every day. This is set to double with jets. That’s the equivalent of two Lac-Mégantic-sized tanker cars. Without a treatment system at the Island Airport, toxic de-icing fluids and fuel spills can get into the City’s sewer system – and ultimately end up in the lake. Read more about the impact on Lake Ontario here.
The jets will need longer runways. That means paving the lake – at least 4 football fields long. Another risk: jet blasts – winds up to 190 km/h generated on and before takeoff. That’s powerful enough to knock over boats.Read more about safety risks here.
Bottom line: with damage to bird sanctuaries and protected green spaces to the equation, jets on our waterfront are a reckless proposition. And let’s not forget how harmful carbon emissions are for the climate.
Wasting Our Taxpayer Dollars
We are revitalizing Toronto’s waterfront with $1.4 billion of our tax dollars – plus $2.6 billion in private sector investments. Why would we want to throw this away? We are also spending almost $500 million in tax money for the Union-Pearson Express.
Porter plans to double passengers to 4 million per year, turning Queens Quay into an airport road –
while we are currently spending almost $200 million to turn into a world-class boulevard. The City is thinking about new traffic lanes, parking lots – even an underground streetcar station and moving sidewalks! Who will pay for all that?
There are even proposals to tear down a school, a community centre and the Canada Malting heritage site to make way for a parking garage. Read more.