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Jet Lag: Why Toronto should embrace an expanded Island Airport

If Toronto wants to be a big league city, downtowners should embrace an expanded island airport

Jet Lag: Why Toronto should embrace an expanded Island Airport

(Image: Jets courtesy of Porter Airlines; Aerial by Tom Podolec)

Let’s just call it Black November, or perhaps Crack November: that interminable nightmare of a month that began with the news that police had recovered a now-infamous video and culminated with an unhinged mayor literally running amok in chambers as council stripped him of his powers. The first test of the sober new structure at city hall—with deputy mayor Norm Kelly in charge—will be early in the New Year, when council will debate the second most important decision it has faced since its term began three years ago.

The issue is whether to grant Porter Airlines approval for its proposed expansion of Billy Bishop Airport. The plan calls for an extension of the runway at either end by up to 200 metres, as well as an exemption to the current ban on commercial jets. The airport, where Porter holds some 85 per cent of all landing slots, now handles just over 2 million passengers annually. City staff estimate the proposed changes could more than double that, to as many as 4.4 million.

The loudest group opposing the expansion is No Jets T.O., a coalition of citizens led by a marketing manager and water­front resident named Anshul Kapoor. Kapoor’s high-profile supporters include ­Margaret Atwood, former chief city planner Paul ­Bedford and former mayor John Sewell. In December, No Jets T.O. hosted a panel discussion in which former mayors David Miller and David Crombie also spoke out against the expansion.

No Jets T.O. claims expansion will result in every imaginable calamity: an increase in gridlock, pollution and bird strikes, as well as reduced property values and an end to pleasure boating (with the added warning that jet tailwinds could overturn sailboats). They even suggest that jets will jeopardize the investment we’ve made in the Union ­Pearson rail link (slated to begin operation in 2015) by diverting passengers away from Pearson. But the number of people flying out of Pearson has increased by roughly 1.5 million every year since 2009, for a total of about 35 million in 2012. The Union Pearson Express will never lack for passengers.

Most of No Jets T.O.’s objections were raised in the myopic bridge debate we heard back in 2003, and all of them turned out to be wrong. The additional traffic down to Bathurst Quay has been messy but manageable, and certainly can’t be blamed on the airport alone. The Lake Ontario breeze keeps the air downtown clearer than in emissions-choked areas to the north. Downtown property values have nearly doubled in the last decade. And boats still crowd the water. I have laid back on a rig in the inner harbour more than once with Porter’s planes flying overhead. It’s exhilarating to have human flight machines as part of the experience.

Beyond these hoary arguments against, two key developments have taken place since 2003 that make this debate different from the original Porter dust-up. The first is the technological leap underway in the aviation industry. Bombardier’s new CS100 jetliner, which Porter hopes to fly out of Billy Bishop, will be the first aircraft powered by next-generation jet engines that produce significantly less noise and emissions than any other jet in production. Last September, I witnessed the CS100’s maiden flight in Montreal—an aviation milestone done up with lots of PR pizzazz—and the muted shoooshh it made on takeoff was an awe-inducing moment for everyone there.

The Toronto Port Authority, which owns and regulates the airport, has set out criteria for approving the proposal: the jets must meet current noise limits, land on Billy Bishop’s short runway (even with extensions, its main strip will be less than half the length of Pearson’s shortest) and have no negative impact on air and water quality. The CS100 is still being tested, but if it can meet these criteria—in other words, if new technology can open up new possibilities within existing constraints, which is what new technology tends to do—­Torontonians should stop kvetching and be early adopters for a change.

The second development may leave us without a choice. The lower downtown is experiencing what urbanists call hyperdensity: human residency and commercial activity on a scale similar to Manhattan or Tokyo. This is something Toronto has never contemplated for itself. Regardless of what happens to the island airport, the number of people travelling in and out of downtown is about to explode. Union Station, despite the chaos of ­renovations, continues to usher through 65 million passengers per year—a number that dwarfs any other train station or airport in the country and that is expected to surpass 100 million by 2030.

Where will all these people go? They’ll disperse into all the new commercial and residential buildings going up in the core. CityPlace, which will end up packing roughly 10,000 new residential units into its 18 hectares once it’s complete, is a useful measure for the growth to come. The plan for the East Bayfront, a 23-hectare parcel south of the Gardiner between Jarvis and Parliament, calls for 6,300 new housing units and two million square feet of commercial space. The 32-hectare West Don Lands development will feature 6,000 new residential units. The 25 hectares south of the Gardiner from Yonge to Jarvis are in the early stages of planning, but already there’s a proposal for six new skyscrapers ranging from 40 to 88 storeys on about a tenth of the land.

The list goes on, and it will only get longer. Pick any empty parcel of land or any parking garage south of the tracks from the Don River to Ontario Place—25 years from now, it’ll likely be a tower. And as hyperdensity arrives, many arguments about the airport’s impact on livability become obsolete. One of the lessons from Toronto’s early-stage hyperdensity projects—­CityPlace, for instance, or the Pinnacle Centre between Bay and Yonge—is that a lot of people don’t mind living next to busy, noisy, smelly transportation infrastructure. The city’s background noise only gets louder as density rises, but people tune it out. In fact, the denser their surroundings, the more people value being close to their escape hatches: railways, subways, expressways. Airways too. The more ports of entry and exit, the better.

In both size and ambition, this city has already far outgrown the time when it could be served by a single airport. But it retains a regrettable parochialism when it comes to its own needs and desires. Toronto is not going to keep climbing the ladder of global influence by resurrecting the ferry to ­Rochester. Ours is one of the few cities in North America with an airport so close to its downtown. Ten years ago, before Porter took flight, people cited that fact as if it were a bad thing. Now we increasingly evoke it with glee—as well we should. It’s proven to be a great addition to our economy, our lifestyle, our skyline and even our din, and we won’t regret this expansion any more than we do the last one.

POSTSCRIPT: Urbanist Richard Florida has come out in favour of jets at the island airport in the Toronto Star, arguing that airports are major drivers of economic development and job creation. Florida and I have sparred vociferously in the past, but on this issue we see eye to eye.

  • lovetoronto

    Don’t forget this POSTSCRIPT: 1. Waterfront Toronto’s Board of Directors vote unanimously against the Airport’s expansion. 2. Toronto City Staff Review Opposes expansion. 3. Toronto Board of Health unanimously Rejects expansion.

  • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

    You have obviously not read any of the recommendations in the City’s staff report. Also current traffic in and out of the airport is a mess. Doubling passenger levels makes the situation worse, not better. Also city taxpayers will be on the hook for half a billion dollar in infrastructure improvements should City Council is stupid enough to approve jets and lengthening runways. Why are we catering to a repeat, elite small business crowd that uses the airport, versus harming our wonderful waterfront revitalization efforts that have occurred to date.

  • Jeffery

    You may want to do your homework first, and read some of the City Staff Review Reports, as well as The Board of Health report. Many more well respected voices have spoken against expansion with jets, and finally, NoJetsTO does not oppose BBTCA. It supports keeping the airport, but cleaning up the mess it has created from the greater community around it, including traffic. It is opposed to Jets.

  • scottld

    People complain about the condo’s along the waterfront and then turn around and support jets at an airport. I think Porter is fine the way it is. Jets will open a door we may never be able to close.

  • Cathy Gulkin

    Preville conveniently skirts around the issue of the extension of the runways that will be necessary for jets to land and take off. He might enjoy sailing in the harbour now and gazing at the smaller porter planes flying overhead, but if the airport expansion is allowed, he’ll be hard pressed to find the space to do so. The runway expansion means that the area that is now off limits to boats will be greatly expanded. The western gap might very well be off limits to boaters and an already very crowded harbour will have the same kind of density as the new condo developments surrounding it. It will also be necessary to build a large wall around the runway to protect boaters from the jet blasts! What an eyesore that will be! It is our waterfront that makes Toronto such a liveable and attractive city. The expansion of the Island Airport, already far too busy, is a disaster for us all. With many thousands more residents slated to occupy the new developments over the next few years, we need MORE recreational space like that provided by the harbour and the islands, not less. No Jets!

  • Michael

    Been to the expensive nightmare known as LBP recently? Avoiding Pearson almost makes driving to Hamilton or Buffalo appealing. I’d like nothing more than to be able to take a streetcar to Billy Bishop and hop onto a jet bound for Miami. Take a look at the fees paid to GTAA on a ticket from LBP. They are nuts.

  • shawntopp

    Why don’t we try to find a solution to ease traffic like, gee, I don’t know, maybe improve transit in that area? Why not find solutions to making this city better instead of simply saying no because we’re afraid?

    The traditionally small-minded, ultra conservative thinking that tends to drive where this city goes needs to stop. We need to find solutions to the issues that may arise from building better infrastructure versus the usual flat-out ‘no’.

  • ah123abc

    Having lived in the Harbour Square community since I was young, I find the recent condo and office developments much more disruptive to my quality of life by the once-quiet lakefront than the Island Airport or Porter ever has. I support the expansion of the airport and oppose further developments on land this side of the lake until the TTC could at least expand the harbourfront street car lines capacity so every morning the ones heading into Union Station aren’t packed like sardines from yahoos who choose to live in the middle of nowhere by Lakeshore and Bathurst.

  • Toronto My Way

    My aunt was visiting from London UK last summer. While talking about big cities and airports, I said “London has two major airports…” and she cut me off with a look of utter contempt. “Two? No, my dear, we have more than that.” She was bordering on insulted, as though “only two” was disrespectful to London. London’s a big city, and having several airports is part of that.

    There are eight (8) terminals at NYC’s JFK airport in Brooklyn. LaGuardia, up in Queens, has four (4) terminals. And then there’s Newark, NJ which, for all intents and purposes, is a 3rd “NY airport” with three (3) terminals itself.

    Toronto is (or is it?) a leading city that should have the ambition, the gumption, to measure itself against the standards of other leading global cities. Pearson, with its 3 terminals, is in 905; Pickering would also be in 905. An airport in 416 can’t possibly be considered the end of the world, but it might help Toronto solidify its profile as a true global city, although we have a long way to go considering our utterly insufficient transit and transportation infrastructure.

    Also, consider the degree to which Toronto connects with the world. As a multicultural epicentre, a lot of people from many countries want to travel, to, from and in and out of here. We are growing, and growth/economy is supported by transportation access and choice.


    I live on the waterfront. It’s already a mess here. The health report indicates the airport as it is is already a big problem. Making it bigger and busier makes absolute no sense unless of course you are Porter.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    In fact, the City’s staff review recommended further study before any decision to approve or reject (equivalently, a for-the-moment rejection that does not preclude a new, improved proposal), and lists a number of important questions which need to be resolved by such study.

    Porter & co. are in a rush to see the current proposal approved without further study, because that serves their preconceived goals.

    The loudest opponents of the expansion encourage the assumption that the answers to each of these questions is UNMITIGATED CATASTROPHE, because that serves their preconceived goals.

    To actually do what’s best for the city and all stakeholders, it actually behooves us to have those studies done (at Porter’s expense, if you like) and reserve judgement until we see what they say.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    Porter & co. claim the “marine exclusion zone” will not need to be changed, despite the longer runway within it.

    The Deputy City Manager’s review ( , p.2) says, “The current review is premised on an expectation that the proposed runway extensions would likely meet Transport Canada regulatory requirements, proceed through appropriate Environmental Assessment(s), and meet Council’s stipulations respecting preservation of the Marine Exclusion Zone.”

    That is, they don’t express open skepticism about the claim.

    You say the opposite. Do you have a source?

  • Kari Tolppanen

    The detractors are so full of hyperbole that their arguments become null and void. “Paving over the lake” for example. More like paving .00001% of the lake. Lenghtening the runway is going to make this airport a crown jewel of Toronto, for all Torontonians. We plan on moving to the waterfront as soon as this deal is done. Then watch the prices of housing skyrocket.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    Since you mention it, if you visit Kyoto or Tokyo, you fly into airports that are about the same distance from their respective downtowns as Hamilton is from Toronto.

    If transit/transportation planning in Ontario were halfway-sane, the UP Express would already be running and we’d be building the high-speed rail link from Union to YHM.

  • Cathy Gulkin

    “an expectation” is a far cry from an assurance. It is telling that Porter has not actually asked Transport Canada whether or not the current Marine Exclusion Zone is sufficient if there are runway extensions. Because they don’t want a “no” answer to be on the public record. Otherwise they would have asked and used a “yes” answer to support their application.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    So you’re saying you do not have a source that indicates the MEZ *must* be expanded if the runway is lengthened.

  • Cathy Gulkin

    That’s right. I’m drawing logical conclusions from the evidence.

  • Bruce Dickson

    From a 2011 National Post article:

    “At first glance the cover story of Toronto Life seems brutally smug: Exodus to the Burbs tells the story of a bunch of families, most of them white people, cashing out of the Toronto real estate market in such places as Leslieville and the Beaches, to settle in apparent hotbeds of warm community embrace: Coburg, Dundas, Uxbridge and Creemore.

    The author, Philip Preville, the former spokesman for the Toronto Board of Trade, reveals that he and his spouse and their three kids cashed out of their Riverdale semi to “a sleepy street in Peterborough.”

    “Mr. Preville apparently needed to get out of Dodge so he could resume being a nice guy, revealing at one point that the inner city, ‘allows us all to set our inner a–holes free in the streets. All my life I’ve been an upbeat person, but when I navigate the city I do it with a frown. I cut people off in my car … I jaywalk. I litter.’”

    Sure must be nice to wish more needless gridlock and pollution on hapless others from so safe a distance, not to mention the expansion of jet fuel and de-icing chemicals storage facilities mere metres away from a grade school/community centre, two adjacent public parks and a vital source of fresh water – not to mention thousands of residents being fed by a regular in-and-out parade of double-trailered tanker trucks. Jet fuel, as in what reportedly brought down the Twin Towers. And that large-scale-fuel-storage-tanker-truck-residential-community combination worked so well for Sunrise Propane, if you simply overlook that little fatal explosion thingy.

    Furthermore, as a former Toronto Board of Trade spokesperson, the author will know that the Board’s own heavily-promoted scorecards for the City make no mention of any airport deficiencies. Instead, it greatly bemoans the City’s gridlock, something an expansion of Billy Bishop Airport is only going to worsen. Oh,and it also goes on to commend the City on its many visitor-attracting features – of which its renowned and revitalizing Waterfront is a premier draw, responsible for far more in business revenue than anything Porter’s wet dream projections might invent.

    Those visitors are hardly going to enjoy contending with hectic airport commuter traffic. They and not going to appreciate the are parking being commandeered by Porter, which has already pre-contracted for a major portion of the area’s limited supply. They are hardly going to find a jet runway only a few hundred metres away and enhancement to their waterfront getaway experience. Which means, they will be less and less likely to frequent the area and its currently-embattled local businesses. And the competing traffic that drives that patronage away won’t be replacing that lost patronage, not while it’s stuck in taxis or hoofing it double-time focused on the sole objective of making a flight.

    Millions and millions of public dollars already being sunk into upgrading and expanding the district’s promenades – a new Champs-Elysee it has been declared – will be all but undone. Who would ever consider for a moment moving the existing “Champs” in Paris to a few hundred metres away from Charles de Gaulle airport? Yet that’s precisely the fate the author would impose on a city he has seen fit to flee.

    The City’s own public health officials have condemned the whole initiative, saying even the status quo deserves a hard look-at. Pearson has plenty of capacity and a publicly-subsidized high-speed rail link ready to click in at least as early as Porter’s earliest ETA’s (which, given all the additional construction required are bound to be pushed back). The jets in question (which are not small at all, by the way) will operate even more safely from there: Indeed, if they are quieter than the existing fleets, they might even prove to be a welcome change.

    In confronting the future of its waterfront, Chicago opted for something that has earned a truly “world class” rating, something which included the shuttering of its urban airport. The result has been a smashing success. But opponents here aren’t calling for anything to be closed, just not expanded. How is that hyperbolic?

    And rest assured that West Jet and Air Canada are already poised to demand equal opportunity for their 737′s and Bombardiers if Porter succeeds with its expansion plans. So, take whatever Porter is spoon-feeding the public and be prepared to double, if not triple, the volume and, hence, the impact.

    If there truly is the additional need for service that Porter claims via this dangerously overly-rushed initiative, there’s also a place for it to be more quickly and safely accommodated – and it’s not the waterfront.

    By the way, Robert Deluce, Porter’s prime mover, is already famous for roping the City into agreeing to open up the Tripartite Agreement enough to allow him to get where he is by quelling any concerns about jet-creep by insisting he would never, ever need jets on the Island to be financially successful. Never! However, as the head of a previously-failed airline enterprise and having had to retreat from a previous attempt to take Porter public insisting on its financial viability, his prognostication skills – added to his evident admission that, yes, he does depend on those “unneeded” jets, after – might not be the most reliable basis upon which to be making a decision affecting the lives and well being of so many thousands, the business prospects of hundreds of local merchants and small enterprises and the future of one of this city’s crown jewels, a true recreational gem.

    Put heavy industry where it belongs. Torontonians have spent decades and immense public sums reclaiming their waterfront from the past trappings of such industry. What immense folly it would be to invite it all back – with a vengeance.

    Next time I go looking for visionary plans for this City I love, I sure won’t be looking in the direction of Peterborough for it. You now know why.

  • emwatcher

    Preville misstates the physical reality of the expansion: “The plan calls for an extension of the runway at either end by up to 200 metres”

    In fact, the 200-metre extensions would be at BOTH ends.

  • lovetoronto

    The statement from the City Review reflects the FACT that Transport Canada did not cooperate with the CIty of Toronto during the 6 month review process. Nor did the TPA. The City therefore can only “premise” the Review on “expectations” that those regulating the Airport would know what the requirements are.

  • emwatcher

    This makes sense — i.e., Kyoto and Tokyo get along without an airport as close as Pearson, let alone one blasting the city core as our island airport already does.

    Preville also misleads with this statement: “No Jets T.O. … even suggest [sic] that jets will jeopardize the investment we’ve made in the Union ­Pearson rail link (slated to begin operation in 2015) by diverting passengers away from Pearson.”

    Some may say this (I don’t know if NO JETS does), but it’s a reversal of the main argument: The investment in fast transit between Union Station and Pearson airport makes the island airport less necessary — certainly it lessens the civic need for expansion, if not Porter’s desire for profits (maybe realized only when it sells the beachhead airline it has created).

  • lovetoronto

    The airport has it’s purpose but it is no jewel. The Toronto Islands are the Crown Jewel.

  • Bruce Dickson

    So solving a non-existent problem by accommodating Porter’s jet expansion will create yet another problem, this time a real one: insufficient transit. So one expensive (and likely publicly-subsidized) runway construction project will beget yet another definitely publicly-funded construction and equipment project (a transit expansion). And all this on top of an already expensive, publicly-subsidized infrastructure initiative in the form of the Union-Pearson highspeed rail link.

    That would be undercutting one long-overdue infrastructure solution in favour of manufacturing new problems requiring, yet again, new solutions. Perhaps the smarter solution is to avoid creating problems that then require one.

  • lovetoronto

    Yes of course it “actually behooves us” now that those who tried to FAST TRACK the review through, didn’t get the answer they were expecting.

  • Bruce Dickson

    You make a false equivalence in your second and third paragraphs: what Porter is in a rush to accomplish would be virtually irreversible and hugely impactful. What those (unidentified) “loudest opponents” might be asserting (can’t be sure, as, being unidentified, they’re also un-quotable) is neither.

    And what’s with the application of ALL CAPS only to the latter? Are you wrestling with some bias you’d prefer not to reveal?

  • Jon

    Narita airport is way outside of Tokyo, and handles most long haul flights, but Haneda is right inside the city, on the waterfront, and is the 4th busiest airport in the world, even recently opening a new international terminal. Tokyo does not get along without an airport in the downtown (blasting the city core, if you like).

  • Paul Kishimoto

    Valid “evidence,” in this case, would be an interpretation of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and any existing Transport Canada regulations specific to BBTCA, that showed there was some mandatory minimum distance between the runway and the boundary of the MEZ.

    From that, one could “logically conclude” that moving the boundary of the runway would require moving the boundary of the MEZ.

    But again, there’s no evidence. Perhaps the MEZ is defined in some other way, that does not give a fixed number of metres from some part of the runway. Then lengthening the runway would *not* necessarily require altering the MEZ.

    Without checking, you’ve made an assumption that allows you to jump to the conclusion that the MEZ “will be greatly expanded”.

  • Bruce Dickson

    What “evidence” do you have, Paul, that the existing MEZ, was determined except in accordance with the existing runway length, thereby implying some sort of physical relationship between the two? Or are you perhaps suggesting that Transport Canada has been reviewing it with foreknowledge of two 200 (now 300) metre extensions in the future?

    (By the way, I have reason to believe that even the current MEZ is only tentative in its dimensions, since Transport Canada has apparently yet to issue a final decision on that. Or perhaps you didn’t “check” that out and merely “assumed” things were otherwise.)

  • Paul Kishimoto

    I’m happy to admit I’m a regular Porter customer (flying home from Boston tomorrow), a former aerospace engineer who’s a bit of a Bombardier fan (for patriotic reasons), and would probably take advantage of the new routes the jets would open up.

    You also choose your words carefully: what is “virtually irreversible” and “hugely impactful” isn’t necessarily *bad*. We’re building an Eglinton LRT—that’s virtually irreversible! As one other poster here suggests, nearby housing prices may “skyrocket”—a hugely beneficial impact (for some)!

    But we don’t know. What irks me is that opponents, especially those who I see linking to No Jets T.O.’s website, claim to know already. Of course, they can’t. That flavour of opposition begins from the “no jets” conclusion and then makes convenient assumptions and exaggerations which serve that goal.

    Suppose it’s possible (again, we don’t know) that relaxing the jet rule, and lengthening the runways, was broadly beneficial and could be done in a way that mitigated any potential negative impacts. A clear win! But the opposition I see is completely uninterested in any such possibility, and further opposed to any effort to identify it.

  • lovetoronto

    Beautifully written. Thank you.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    Bruce, on the very day the proposal was announced, I was in a discussion over on Torontoist and waded into the CARs to try to find specific language about MEZs, approach surfaces, etc.:

    I am—as I was in April—interested in seeing some alternate, expert interpretations of the actual regulations. Again, I haven’t seen any—only unfounded claims that, for instance, “the Western Gap will be completely off-limits”.

  • Bruce Dickson

    Okay, so at least you’ve deigned to identify an adversary, No Jets T.O. But that group has been adamant about not taking a run at the status quo; so your commuting to Boston remains safe, it would seem. So you might want to dial back the invective.

    It also bears repeating that this whole, generationally important proposition was foisted onto the people of this city with no warning and with nowhere near the time required to study it at all properly. And it was put to City Council with a a ridiculous, Porter-imposed deadline. That’s bullying, not city-building; so cut No Jets and its supporters some slack for being extremely wary.

    Porter has also had its hand in the review process being followed – and it shows. The marching orders given the various consultant groups have been carefully crafted to favour a preferred outcome – and I say this as one who attended their presentations and was able to quiz their representatives. So, the trepidation you are witnessing is not without a reasonable basis.

    So, here’s an idea: why don’t we give such a major decision the time it really needs to be studied and deliberated, given the scope of its implications and effects? Then let’s see who is and isn’t unreasonable?

  • Paul Kishimoto

    Since digging up the link below to the Torontoist thread, I’ve remembered it was actually Adam Vaughan who first raised my ire by claiming (also without proof) that it would affect “the quality of our drinking water”.

    I don’t know if the similarly hyperbolic Internet commenters I see citing No Jets T.O. are officially affiliated with the group, to the extent it has official affiliates.

    “Give such a major decision the time it really needs to be studied and deliberated, given the scope of its implications and effects” is exactly what I’m asking for.

  • Bruce Dickson

    Okay, so you haven’t heard that the existing MEZ is itself still tentative? (Evidently – and you in your profession would be even better versed about such matters – there are many complex, interrelated and unique factors that impend on Transport Canada’s decision-making, hence, at least in part, the great length of time it is taking to arrive at a final decision. Not that that has stopped Porter from rushing to push the envelope yet again.)

    Leaving that aside for the moment, then: which proposition would you see as the more likely, that moving the runway boundaries a great distance would also invite a corresponding move of the MEZs or that it would not? Remember as you consider an answer that safety is Transport Canada’s first and foremost concern.

  • Bruce Dickson

    Good to hear. That would be where you and your preferred carrier differ greatly, it seems, since Porter insisted that the decision be made days ago.

    I also think the city should be taking full control of the review process instead of letting Porter’s (and the conflicted Port Authority’s) offer to fund it get in the middle. The issue warrants a truly independent process, not something where a vested interest gets to pay the piper.

  • Henry Rychlicki

    Toronto is so popular with so many flying in and out and this noise will drive people close to the Island Airport batty and I say go for it, yes, lets turn Toronto into a Hong Kong right away!!!!

  • whereissanity

    Preville spends much of the article rebutting the rhetoric of the “against” crowd, but fails to make any strong arguments for the proposal. The idea that recent developments in aviation technology are in and of themselves a reason to adopt the proposal reveals an unabashed technophilia, and Preville makes this plain when he encourages Torontonians to “be early adopters for a change” without stating what the benefits of doing so might be.

    His second argument, that Toronto is experiencing “hyperdensity” and therefore needs a bigger airport downtown, is not much different than suggesting that the solution to traffic problems is to build wider roads. It is more likely that the opposite is true: “hyperdensity” is not in fact a foregone conclusion, but expanding the downtown airport will certainly help to create it.

    Finally, in stating that “Toronto is not going to keep climbing the ladder of global influence by resurrecting the ferry to ­Rochester”, he treats as self-evident the notion that global influence is a desirable end in itself. Why should this be the case? Are Torontonians hungry for power?

    I have yet to hear a single good argument for expanding the airport to accommodate jets. I’m waiting…

  • OpportKnocks

    One can’t help but wonder how much Porter and/or the TPA paid for the simultaneous pro-expansion op-ed pieces here and in the Toronto Star.

    The bottom line is that an airport and the associated infrastructure required to expand to 4,000,000 passengers per year, simply will not fit on the island. Have a look at this scale comparison >>

    Looking at Porters list of planned destinations, it is clear they are targeting vacation travellers. There is no reason that weekend and week long vacation travellers cannot spend 20-30 minutes more and travel out of Pearson.

    This is not a NIMBY issue, I live just south ot the Pearson flight path and Porter is welcome to fly out of here.

  • cc

    ‘Good to hear’ – it was his initial post. You’re tripping over your own bluster.

  • cc

    “At either end” means both ends, in this sentence – “They sat at either end of the table”.

  • Bruce Dickson

    It was only part of that post. The rationale he went on to offer in favour of it seemed worthy of further attention. Happily that appears to have led to further respectful discourse, discovery and, greater mutual understanding – not for everyone, evidently, but not all progress is universal..

  • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

    John, we are talking prime harbour that is being taking away from our waterfront. If you want to use dumb percentages like you mentioned, put Porter in the middle of Lake Ontario.

  • Scot Milroy

    Go back to Peterborough Preville, you disingenuous dirt bag.

  • C C Simmons

    Ask anyone in Manhattan if they would approve an Island Airport on Governor’s Island to make their city a “big league city”. The answer would be along these lines; “What are the traffic logistics and where is the infrastructure?” Yes they have 3 airports and one of them is in another state, and the other is MILES away from their downtown. Has anyone considered how much traffic chaos an expanded “jet” airport would create? Bathurst street has 1 lane assigned to TTC streetcars and Queens Quay will soon be one-lane traffic.
    Toronto is investing hundreds of millions into Metrolinx. Why would we allow Porter to turn this vision and initiative upside-down; and propose creating an International airport that would double the amount of passengers, accept jets and thus create absolute 100% gridlock in downtown!?
    According to Philip Preville he states that it would be “a great addition to our economy, our lifestyle, our skyline and even our din, and we won’t regret this expansion any more than we do the last one.”
    There are 2 pains in life. One is DISCIPLINE which weighs grams. The other is REGRET which weighs kilo-grams!
    He uses the words “our” 4 times and “we” twice. How easy it is to have your head up in the clouds; when it is indeed up somewhere else………..

  • Wab

    Here is a copy of the letter I sent to the Toronto Life Editor -

    To the Editor – I strongly object to your support through Philip Preville’s article in your magazine of the expansion of the island airport to include jets and extended runways for these jets.

    You choose to ignore the opinions of the Board of Health, City Staff , WaterfrontTO , the TCRA and NoJetsT.O. and three former Toronto Mayors – Mr Sewell, Mr Crombie and Mr Miller.

    I will not be interested in reading your magazine in future because of your support of Big Business over all other concerns.

    Unless of course you do equal coverage of the myriad negative aspects of this outrageous island airport expansion.

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for it though.

    And incidentally – The Toronto Port Authority is a federal agency that has control of our waterfront without any interest in what the citizens of Toronto want with regard to this airport. Indeed, it is a rogue federal agency that owes and refuses to pay millions of dollars in back taxes to our city. If I as an individual refused to pay my taxes I’d be in jail. No one should give any credence to the TPA because they are tax evaders.

  • Wab

    Thanks for the last line there CC Simmons. Made me Laugh! Well said!

  • keisha brown

    we’ve been talking about getting a train to Pearson for like EVER and STILL don’t have one. And yet we keep bidding for major things (Olympics/Pan-Am) without doing the work FIRST for the people that LIVE here.

  • keisha brown

    i’m a porter client, so i am biased.
    i’m also a frequent traveller, so even more biased.
    i’ve only ever flown out of pearson once, and gone there to pick a person up once. ALL my other flying, prior to porter’s inception was via buffalo.

    if it’s going to take me 2 hrs to get to an airport, and i have to be there 2 hrs before my flight – i might as well take the bus or drive 2 hrs to buffalo, be there only 1 hr before my flight AND save AT LEAST $200-300 if not more.

    Toronto is a city with potential that we don’t live up to. we can build condos but NOTHING else here? the roads suck because of all people crammed into dense areas, but TTC is a crappy alternative to driving. the hospitals are overwhelmed. the schools are crowded. but we’re worried about a small group of people who moved to an area where the airport existed first (yes, not really in use, but it was there prior to many of these new buildings).

    i’m not saying the health and environmental concerns should be discounted, but if we are going to make claims about being a world-class city and do things that benefit the city as a whole (including the people that want to visit it) – we have to DO things. like actually DO. get the funding and BUILD. not go around in circles, undo the work from the previous regime and piss off the people you expect to get (b/m)illions of dollars from. work to find other funding sources. (like if minto wants to build above a subway on major ttc routes, make them help fund it!! ie: museum station). we have all these ‘groups’ telling me what’s wrong with the city, but what are doing to actually FIX it??

  • Mark Mattson

    Philip Preville isn’t wrong but he is asking the wrong questions. The question isn’t between Jet or No Jets; it is between an airport OR the biggest and cleanest Waterpark on the Great Lakes. (see: for swimmability of beaches on other side of airport runway on Island)

    What amenity…..directly beside the high density of downtown Toronto would better facilitate and sustain this amazing growth and investment. I think Preville, Florida and whoever else is asked would agree that these public lands would be best used as a people place to swim, run, bike and connect with Lake Ontario when compared to an airport. And the millions who move into Toronto’s downtown over the next 25 years….will thank the people today for asking the right questions and not being caught up in a marketing scheme to put Torontonions between the horns of a dilemma.


  • Peter Van Aken

    I believe an increase in capacity and function at Billy Bishop Airport is a good thing. It will spur downtown (and, well beyond) infrastructure development – which is very urgently needed to meet growth in the future. In fact, it needed that kind of development in many different aspects yesterday, years ago. We’ve fallen way behind in being able to handle the growth that has happened and which is pushing everything to bursting point. Prepare now, and let this airport be the impetus that gets things happening, enabling us all to adequately meet the current demands and future needs. Those future needs are going to be very big, the hand-writing already written large on the wall.

  • OpportKnocks

    Why would Preville want to do any meaningful research and possibly be confused by the facts? He wrote what he was paid to write by Porter and/or the TPA, end of discussion.

    While we are having a debate on BBTCA, why do we need 2 airport authorities? If the airport is approved for expansion put it under the GTAA, with the same 100% cost recovery model as Pearson. No more corporate welfare for Porter.

  • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

    Scot, great comment. Yes Preville, with this less-than-journalistic op-ed piece proves himself to be a BIG disingenuous dirt bag. Yes, dirt bag.

  • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

    Keisha, the UP Express will be up and running prior to the PanAm Games. Your wish will be answered shortly.

  • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

    So basically you are agreeing that the city should waste half a billion dollars in traffic infrastructure paid out of the Toronto taxpayer’s pocket to support one operator’s business. Porter troll?

  • keisha brown

    i believe i stated that i am a user of porter services.
    so please don’t accuse me of being a troll.

    im more speaking of the city as a whole. if porter wants to pay for it, and it doesn’t cost the taxpayers – but will benefit said taxpayers – then i say go for it. the culture of this city has become build first, plan second. and we are all paying the cost in some way shape or form.

    we got something funded, which was just cancelled to buy votes in scarborough to the tune of $85million – a subway that probably STILL wont get built for another 12 years.

    so miss me with the waste of taxpayers’ money – it’s CONSTANTLY happening in this city at ALL levels in different ways.

  • disqus_Ge66ya39yo

    Your right, Bruce. We should do absolutely nothing and leave the city exactly as it is rather than planning for the future. I live very close to the Island Airport, and I can see construction workers outside my window right now constructing a condo building that will partially block my very expensive view. I am well aware of the increasing gridlock and transportation issues. I am also aware of the rubber-stamping of bad development by the city and the OMB as they ignore official city plans and by-laws for development. BUT I am in favour of the expanded airport provided the public transit is expanded at the same time to handle the additional traffic. I think the bigger problem is the city’s inability to create a viable transit plan and stick to it.

  • Bruce Dickson

    Pearson – which has expanded considerably, continues to expand, has room to expand, is zoned for heavy industry (which a commercial airport actually is), is about to be serviced by the very sort of enhanced transit infrastructure you’re suggesting should also be duplicated on the lakefront and which is not located within metres of a school/community centre, four popular and well-frequented, tourist-attracting parks lined by a densely-populated, high-rise corridor nor is it seated atop a fresh water resource – is the plan for the future. So, there is no “rather than planning for the future” about it.

    From your description, you are already able to walk to the Island airport, putting you within convenient commuting distance of a whole host of eastern North American cities, including Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, New York, Boston and Chicago. That convenience for you has already come at a not-insignificant price for others, as well, in very real quality-of-life terms. No one is talking about taking that away from you and yet, still you want more, regardless of what cannot help but be a disproportionate impact.

    And based on what? On reports funded by the parties desperate for self-favouring results, reports that were deliberately rushed and handcuffed by conveniently-crafted and highly limited parameters and which, by the way, left any look at the health impacts for the very last, giving them nowhere near the time required to commence let alone do a proper job.

    Why all this sudden and frenzied activity? After all, the high speed mass transit link to Pearson is barely a year away. Is it the stuff of sober, studied and deliberate future planning? No, it is the stuff of Porter taking a flyer, entirely on its own, by inking a deal for a fleet of aircraft it had originally reassured all and sundry it would never need; a deal with an unreasonably ambitious delivery date. (You want to talk about poor planning?)

    So, because Porter suddenly wants to go rogue and roll the dice, everyone from grade school children to City Council and all the staff have got to drop what they’re doing, take no time to seriously consider their own personal short and long-term interests and conform, instead, to some single area-employer’s profit-mongering agenda? Using its over-weighted ad budget to co-opt an increasingly-embattled print media to assist in moving public opinion its way?

    With its roughshod and immensely self-interested tactics, Porter has clearly revealed its attitude vis-a-vis the public interest which is to say it’s not interested in the public – just their money. I hardly think that’s the kind of attitude a city should be turning the fate of one its most envied and visited jewels over to. This has almost nothing to do with “planning” and almost everything to do with bullying. We can do – and should be doing – far, far better than to fall for it.

  • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

    You mention, “if porter wants to pay for it,”. That’s one big issue. They don’t want to pay for anything. The tunnel and runway extensions are going to be special passenger levies. The half billion dollars to fix traffic congestion and gridlock, Toronto taxpayers are being asked to fund that. Why would we waste a half a billion dollars in municipal taxes to fund one man’s commercial venture?

  • disqus_Ge66ya39yo

    Bruce, I’m not sure now whether it is the airport or Porter and ‘big business’ that upset you so much. Just because Porter has invested in advertising does not make it rogue or a bully. It’s their money to spend. The city, and all levels of government, will still do their due diligence as elected officials (I remain hopeful).

    The fact that I can walk to Billy Bishop is not a matter of me wanting ‘more more more.’ I’m not jumping on planes on a regular basis by any means. I don’t own a car, and I ride my bike or walk more often than not. I use the waterfront trails every weekend. I take the TTC to Pearson. But thanks for making assumptions about my lifestyle.

    In fact, I was trying to make a point that I am surrounded by constant noise and construction and congestion and it is often less than pleasant. I am well aware of the quality of life issues in this rapidly expanding neighbourhood.

    In fact, I think the developers and OMB that have over-developed this area, including the waterfront, are having a much larger impact on the quality of life of the area residents, including school children. And I go to meetings and fight those proposals on a regular basis.

    So I’ll say it again – IF the research shows minimal environmental impact (noise, air quality, lifestyle), and the city works to create an infrastructure plan that will accommodate traffic (granted, they don’t seem to care about this when approving new condos), then I will support an expanded airport. If the city requires more time to properly assess the proposal, they have every right to ask for it. They are not being forced to drop what they are doing. Dealing with these issues is their job, not a side bar.

  • disqus_Ge66ya39yo

    UPDATE (December 3, 2013): Yesterday, the Waterfront Toronto board issued a statement urging caution with respect to airport expansion, even expressing doubts about the adequacy of the current tri-partite agreement to protect the waterfront. Here is an excerpt:

    “Waterfront Toronto believes that expansion has the potential to create significant risks for waterfront revitalization. There is a clear vision for the waterfront being implemented now that is transforming our waterfront. What is required is a clear vision and decision on the appropriate scale for BBTCA within a thriving waterfront. Specifically, how large can the airport become before a tipping point is reached that overwhelms and threatens the present and future potential of the waterfront? No decision on expansion should proceed without the information required to make this generational decision.”

    Mr. John W. Campbell
    President & CEO
    Waterfront Toronto
    20 Bay Street, Suite 1310
    Toronto, ON M5J 2N8