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PortsToronto planning exercise

May 6th, 2015 · No Comments

Four island airport expansion studies underway

A C100 series Bombardier Aircraft (seen here departing Shanghai), is the model that Porter Airlines proposes to fly out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

A C100 series Bombardier Aircraft (seen here departing Shanghai), is the model that Porter Airlines proposes to fly out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

By Annemarie Brissenden

Torontonians attending an open house on Mar. 31 got their first look at what changes could result if jets were to begin flying in and out of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA).

PortsToronto (formerly the Toronto Port Authority) hosted the meeting to report on its Master Planning Exercise, which explored the theoretical impact the introduction of jet aircraft would have on airport vision, runways, taxiways, passenger activity, and noise, among other factors.

The results of the study indicate that air carrier slots could be increased from 202 to 242, and still remain within the estimated annual movement capacity limit detailed in the airport’s 2012 Master Plan. If hourly slots increased from 16 to 24, passengers travelling in and out of the airport would increase from 850 to 1,300, resulting in an increase from 2.7 million to 4.1 million passengers on an annual basis.

Adding jets would necessitate the relocation of a number of electronic navigational aids, and jet blast deflectors would be required at each end of the runway to mitigate the effects of jet blasts during takeoff. Ports-Toronto is also considering a road to the airport’s south field that “would tunnel under the west runway extension, providing access to potential future general aviation development and to Toronto Island when normal ferry access is unavailable”.

Some things that wouldn’t change include the length of the marine exclusion zone (although it would get slightly wider on the north and sides of its west end, and slightly wider on the south side of its east end); approach lighting from the water; and aircraft approach slopes. The study does not report on noise barriers; wind, wave, and ice considerations; or community impacts, as those areas are being reviewed under separate — yet connected — initiatives.

The Master Planning Exercise is but one of four studies that resulted from Toronto City Council’s April 2014 vote to defer making a final decision on whether to allow jets to fly in and out of the island airport. The other studies include a comprehensive environmental assessment, preliminary runway design, and a Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan. PortsToronto is undertaking the first three, while the City of Toronto is managing the Bathurst Quay Plan. Each study is being developed in coordination with the others, and involves extensive public consultation and engagement.

PortsToronto representatives stress that its pursuit of these studies should be not be taken as indicative of support of, or opposition to, the Porter proposal.

But Norman Di Pasquale, chair of NoJetsTO, a group opposed to the expansion of the island airport, isn’t convinced.

“[PortsToronto] is effectively declaring war on our waterfront with [its] vision of a major jet airport,” said Di Pasquale in a statement dated Mar. 31. “The expansion plans are even worse than we feared, with a doubling of passengers to 5.5 million [a] year.”

Air Canada, which from the island airport only offers flights to and from Montreal, released a statement Apr. 2 responding to PortsToronto’s planning exercise that reiterated its opposition to jets at Billy Bishop airport. The airline has campaigned for access to more slots, 85 per cent of which are held by Porter Airlines, arguing that Air Canada’s limited access to slots prevents it from serving other short-haul markets, as demanded by its customers.

“We prefer to see a growing downtown airport focused on short-haul passengers using modern turboprop aircraft, which would be more consistent with the spirit and intent of the original tripartite agreement at Billy Bishop,” stated Derek Vanstone, the company’s vice president of corporate strategy, government, and industry affairs. “Ports-Toronto’s focus on jets is not defensible, as Billy Bishop certainly can prosper and grow as a turboprop airport.”

In a follow-up statement, Di Pasquale welcomed Air Canada’s stance.

“We are glad that one of the two tenant airlines at the island airport is taking a stance against jets,” said Di Pasquale. “NoJetsTO agrees with Air Canada that jets would violate the spirit and intent of the Tripartite Agreement.”

Billy Bishop is operated under a Tripartite Agreement between the City of Toronto, PortsToronto, and the federal government. Under the terms of the agreement, all three parties must agree to any changes before they can come into effect.

For further information on the Master Planning Exercise, or any of the four studies now underway regarding the expansion of the island airport, please see: www.portstoronto. com/PortsToronto/Proposed-Extension-of-Billy-Bishop-Toronto-City-Ai.aspx.

—with files from Samina Esha

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