Opponents of expanding Billy Bishop lakeside airport in Toronto say they will not compromise in fighting the damaging plans

The fight by Toronto citizens against permission for much noisier  jets to use Billy Bishop lakeside airport continues. There has been the suggestion that there could be “compromise” to resolve the dispute. Opponents do not accept this, as the impact of effectively doubling the size of the lakeside airport  – with jets not turboprops; with greatly lengthened runway and rows of light approach towers extending up to 700 metres beyond the runways; and planes landing and taking off every two minutes. There would also need to be high and obtrusive walls lining the runways to shield small boats using the lake from jet thrust. And on the land side, doubled volumes of traffic carrying passengers, jet fuel, services and etc creating bad road congestion. That is on top of noise concerns, impacts on air quality and habitat. Concerned residents fear the expansion means not a change in degree, but a different kind of airport. The justifications for the rush to judgement to approve this massive shift are convenience for some business travellers and a purported economic advantage. Campaigners against say both are specious.  Much more important is what would be sacrificed. Toronto people love their waterfront, which has been improved by adding new and improved places for the public to enjoy. The airport would destroy much of that. 



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Background to the story of the fight in Toronto against expansion of the lakeside airport.

In Toronto expansion of lakeside Billy Bishop airport is strenuously opposed by thousands whose lives it would adversely affect

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. Details at https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=18568



Toronto Star Op-Ed: No Compromise Possible on Jets

February 9, 2014  (From No Jets T.O – Save Toronto’s waterfront)
 by tim

Op-Ed Titled “Island Airport Expansion is a Change in Kind not a Change in Degree”


TORONTO – It has been suggested that there should be a “compromise” to resolve the dispute over Toronto’s island airport. After all, this is the Canadian way. Some well-meaning voices say: “I am for state-of-the-art ‘quiet’ jets but against any substantial increase in service; can’t we just limit the volume of flights to protect the livability of the waterfront and surrounding neighbourhoods?”

But that option is not on the table. The proposal is to double the size of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to equal the capacity of Ottawa’s International Airport serving between 4.3 and 4.8 million passengers a year.

Picture runway extensions the length of two football fields at both ends into Toronto Harbour and into the Western Gap, with enlarged exclusion zones to keep boat traffic away. Picture rows of light approach towers extending up to 700 metres beyond the runways as mandated by Transport Canada to accommodate planes landing and taking off every two minutes.

Add to that high and obtrusive walls lining the runways to shield small boats from jet thrust. And on the land side, doubled volumes of traffic carrying passengers, jet fuel, services and supplies overwhelm the already impossibly congested five-point intersection at Bathurst, Lake Shore and Fleet. This on top of noise concerns, impacts on air quality and habitat.

This is not a change in degree; it is a profound change in kind. We are talking about a different kind of airport.

Both the city’s medical officer of health and the board of Waterfront Toronto have sounded the alarm. If an application were made today for a new airport the size of the Ottawa International Airport on the Toronto waterfront, the incompatibility would be perfectly obvious. This doubling (and change in kind) is being rushed through as though it were an incremental modification with no clear applicant, no environmental assessment, no completed master plan, no jet planes certified, no business plan, no infrastructure plan and no funds to implement.

The justifications for the rush to judgment to approve this massive shift are convenience for some business travellers and a purported economic advantage. Both are specious. The net benefits in either case, given the opening of the air-rail link next year, are likely marginal. Much more important is what would be sacrificed.

It is our waterfront. From south Etobicoke to the Scarborough Bluffs and beyond, what is emerging all along the Toronto waterfront is one of the most remarkable transformations of its kind anywhere. The revitalization of these strategically located, obsolescent lands is providing new and improved places for the public to enjoy: parks and trails, a linked series of neighbourhoods, places to live and work, and places of recreation, repose and natural beauty.


It’s “cottage country” in the heart of the city.

The waterfront is where Toronto is reinventing itself for the 21st century, adjusting to the city’s new southern face. Our waterfront is materializing as the collective work of generations of Torontonians, supported by investments of all three levels of government and the private sector.

Its future contours are just becoming visible as the many pieces fall into place — from the promise of a revived Ontario Place/Exhibition Place, including the newly announced park, to the music garden shaped by Yo-Yo Ma and the Queens Quay Greenway currently under construction, to Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common in the heart of the new East Bayfront neighbourhood, with George Brown College and $2.6 billion of private investment in progress — making it one of the largest such revitalization efforts in the world.

The problem is that this entire band of waterfront is on the flight path of and bisected by the overburdened “land path” leading to Billy Bishop airport. And unlike the other cities where a close-by airport is somewhat removed from the core, Billy Bishop sits right on Toronto Harbour, the heart and focal point of this entire endeavour, the gateway to our unique treasure, the Toronto Islands.

The key to the waterfront’s future success is that one activity not be allowed to dominate the others. This equilibrium breaks down when a single element is overscaled to the point that its impacts impair other uses and activities. That is what the proposed expansion of the airport would do.

This is not about Porter Airlines. The proposed expansion of the island airport would inevitably open it to major carriers like Air Canada, WestJet and United, which have already declared their intentions.

The existing airport is an accepted fact. Its continued presence has been based on the understanding set out in the 1983 tripartite agreement that allows only turboprop passenger service at Billy Bishop airport with additional expansion capacity. That is the compromise that was already reached and should be honoured.

Ken Greenberg is the former head of urban design in the Toronto planning department; Anne Golden is chair of the Transit Investment Advisory Panel; David Crombie is a former mayor of Toronto; Jack Diamond is a Toronto-based international architect; Paul Bedford was the chief planner of Toronto. 







Pearson airport is the main airport for Toronto.


But there is another fight about yet another airport for Toronto:


In Toronto uncertainty continues over a possible new Pickering airport, with citizen opposition

4.9.2013There has been a long fight against the building of a new Pickering airport for Toronto. In their 40-plus years of struggle against a development –  in a growing suburb to the east of the city – many citizens feel priority is given to business interests over prime agricultural farmland.  Until a firm and unequivocal commitment is made by Ottawa to abandon the project completely the citizen activists central to the struggle to halt the development can never be sure the project won’t find new life, at some distant moment, under yet another government. Most frustrating for those who oppose the project is that in their view there has never been an adequate explanation for why Pickering needs its own Mirabel, a Greater Toronto Hamilton Area equivalent of Montreal’s white elephant airport that has become synonymous with poor air transport planning in Canada. “Land Over Landings” is the community group that leads opposition to the airport plan. It is continuing the public engagement their predecessors began in 1972.They  say that clean water and local food will always be more vital than easy access to yet another area airport.