My letter on the Billy Bishop Island Airport Expansion

Letter on the Island Airport

April 3, 2014

Dear Friends,

I believe in a Toronto waterfront that is planned carefully, balances uses, and provides Torontonians with a first-class waterfront, and I hope you do too.

Last year, Porter Air approached the City to re-open the Tripartite Agreement, but this process has made it clear that there is a lot of work that needs to be done to properly manage any new growth at the island airport, whether jets or no jets. From 2006 to 2012, the number of passengers flying out of Billy Bishop increased from 26,000 per year to 2.3 million per year. Under the current agreement, there is no framework to manage this growth, and the impact on local infrastructure or residents.

At Council, we voted unanimously to set a clear path forward for any discussion around the airport and to defer a final decision on the jets and expansion issue until the relevant information is available – likely in 2015. The City made it clear to Porter Airlines and the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) that there can be no short cuts when it comes to planning on our waterfront (or anywhere else in the City, for that matter). The City needs to have comprehensive plans and studies in its hands when being asked to weigh in on such a significant matter. We also said that before negotiations go anywhere the TPA and Porter need to come to the table to find solutions to existing problems with local traffic issues and resident concerns.

Council also supported amendments to limit the scope of the negotiations and to set clear requirements for these discussions, including:

  • Making clear City Council's vote does not support or oppose the proposal because there is not enough information
  • The City will not be on the hook to pay for infrastructure upgrades needed to accompany any growth of the airport
  • No federal or provincial dollars will be taken away from City projects for airport infrastructure needs
  • Waterfront Toronto will be consulted throughout the entire process
  • General aviation uses be preserved at the island airport and not be pushed out by commercial uses
  • Safety exemptions already granted to the airport by Transport Canada be thoroughly reviewed
  • Council will be notified if the ownership of Porter changes during the negotiations
  • A study of the impact of expansion on the important bird habitats on the waterfront
On my website you can see the comments I made during this debate about the need to respond to the process as we build on the vision for the airport. The full report and recommendations are available online here.

Council voted to give staff the time and resources they requested to take the time to properly study airport expansion and bring forward recommendations, as we do with any other planning issue. Process matters, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to engage with residents and stakeholders on this decision that will have lasting impacts for the City of Toronto. Sincerely,


Councillor Paula Fletcher Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth

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