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The Six Best Toronto Port Authority Noise Complaints

Photo by news46 from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Two years after it was a major election issue, the Toronto Island Airport is no less contentious. Today, CommunityAIR forwarded on the Toronto Port Authority’s newly-released collection of noise complaints submitted in June [PDF], and there are plenty: in total, there were 195 complaints from 65 complainants, a significant increase over previous months. And sometimes there were dozens of complaints filed for one individual incident, like when a plane underwent engine maintenance early one Sunday morning and garnered some thirty complaints.
Pegged by CommunityAIR as documentation of “torture,” the complaints tell of frustration, but most still manage to be reasonable, succinct, detailed, and totally sympathetic. Most look like this one:
That’s not to say that the 83-page summary of complaints doesn’t make for good reading, though. Here are a few gems that, for one reason or another, stood out from the pack.

Say what you will about Ernest Hemingway’s temperament—the man could write.
And there’s Faulkner, showing off as usual.
Slowly but steadily, God enacts His revenge on Atheists and people who enjoyed Luminato.
It probably wasn’t the author’s intention, but this complaint makes living near the islands seem really exciting.
And this, obviously, is our favourite.


  • Lands Down

    But Porter is awesome so all of this is moot.

  • pman

    The only way to get rid of the Island Airport is through the government in Ottawa, which hates Toronto (though it loves our tax dollars). We have to make the TPA an issue in the next federal election. On the theory that Toronto MP’s will represent Toronto’s interests…OK scratch that, let’s all move to Calgary.

  • Astin

    Maybe the problem is that condos were built NEAR AN AIRPORT! And that people went and bought them! Houses near Pearson have a hard time selling if they’re on a flight path. There’s a reason a lot of commercial and industrial real estate is near airports.
    Personally, I love that there’s an island airport, and think that scuttling the bridge was a huge mistake that certainly did nothing to help the city’s struggling budget issues.

  • CanadianSkeezix

    I really have no tolerance for the NIMBY hordes at CommunityAir. The airport existed long before the nearby residences. If you don’t want to awoken at 9:38 a.m. on a Sunday morning, don’t move in next door to an airport for God’s sake.
    Until such time as we have some sort of fast and efficient direct link between downtown and Pearson, I will remain a firm supporter of the Island airport.
    Interestingly, many of my friends and colleagues used to be anti-Island airport, dating to the time of the Miller/Tory/Hall mayoral campaign. One by one, many of them have had occasion to fly Porter since them. Now most of them think Porter is wonderful, and that the Island airport isn’t the monster it was made out to be. I know these are only my anecdotal impressions, but although the airport surely still sticks in the craw of Adam Vaughan and nearby condo dwellers, I believe that for the most part the rest of the city has moved on.

  • davedave

    I would say call the whaaaaaaaaambulance but it would make too much noise.
    195 complaints from 65 people, so the same people are writing in over and over.

  • the goggles do nothing

    There are numerous neighbourhoods in the GTA that are subject to noise from jets landing or taking off at Pearson. And this can be heard 10′s of kilometres away from the airport. I hear nothing from CommunityAIR about this. Are only white downtown hipsters worthy enough to be free of noise from airports?

  • bigdaddyhame

    the only way the island airport is going to go away is if it ceases making money for its owners/users. Period.

  • dowlingm

    I wonder what Pearson’s noise complaint report looks like. But that’s only people in Rexdale so who cares right? In terms of “ZOMG teh planes taking off could drop and crash” at least Porter departs over water whereas no matter which direction a Pearson plane departs or lands, it will be over heavily populated areas.
    This is Transport Canada’s list of fines handed out for failure to observe regulations including noise abatement in the last 12 months. The racoon isn’t on it at first glance.
    As for the complaining islanders – I noticed this over the weekend. Maybe it’s just him breaking his lease conditions though…

  • AdamSchwabe

    Great post, David. I will continue to fly Porter at every possible opportunity – if you haven’t yet tried it and are heading to anywhere they go, do yourself a favour and jump on that ridiculous ferry.

  • rek

    Having a ferry to the airport is ridiculous. I can understand not wanting cars, but why not a pedestrian or strictly streetcar/walking bridge? Think of how much diesel that ferry burns every time it cross the 160 meter gap.

  • dowlingm

    extremely loud low flying plane sounded like it was going to fly right
    through our house

    Aircraft Category Armed Forces Avro Lancaster MK X
    I saw a Lanc (presumably that one?) one day from my house and thought I was seeing things! No complaint from me… in fact I considered myself lucky to see such an old bird.

  • davedave

    1 A pedestrian bridge is a good idea, but you would have to make it some kind of a drawbridge – too many tall masted boats go through there.
    2 Streetcar option: adding the detour to go to the airport would make no practical sense (adding lots of time to the route(s), very few riders, heavy streetcar would impose engineering restrictions on the bridge – it would make more sense to do a pedestrian drawbridge and just run the ferry less frequently.

  • Lands Down

    Weren’t they about to build a bridge before Miller stopped them? I’m sure it accounted for boat travel. The ferry is absurd. The airport remains. Well done, Miller.
    I just ended up on the toronto island residents website through Dowling’s link. What an odd system we’ve put in place there. I’m not yet sure how I feel about it.

  • Ben

    For street cars, they could run it from Cherry street down Polson. The gap it so short that these new street cars will probably be able to jump it.

  • rek

    davedave – This design would meet both needs, but it’s far too good for Toronto. The whole thing tilts to let boats pass.

  • toronno

    Don’t forget – it was a park long before it was an airport. It’s never been profitable and probably never will be. Would be nice to see the space returned to parkland and give a little peace to downtown residents no matter how pampered they are presumed to be.

  • Mint

    Re: Lands Down
    IIRC the plan for letting boats through was to open the bridge for 5 minutes every half hour.
    I thought these complaints were hilarious, but I did grow up on the flightline of a military base.

  • davedave

    I love that bridge. Something cool like that would become a landmark and something people would want to take photos of and hang around…
    But, it did cost 13 million pounds, and the island airport surroundings are kind of ratty, so yeah, I don’t know if the project merits that kind of beauty and geniusness.
    They could always just do a zipline off the top of the grain towers over to the terminal.

  • Astin

    I’m feeling pedantic.
    “Downtown residents” annoys me. I live downtown, right in the heart of it actually, and the airport has absolutely ZERO effect on me. No noise from it, nothing.
    No, the island airport pretty much only affects WATERFRONT residents, not all downtown residents. Even then, it only really affects those near Bathurst. Wow… that’s what? Not even 1% of the residents downtown?

  • rek

    Most of Toronto is pretty ratty. Zip lines, though; I could get behind that project if it expanded through the downtown.

  • CanadianSkeezix

    toronno said: Don’t forget – it was a park long before it was an airport. It’s never been profitable and probably never will be. Would be nice to see the space returned to parkland and give a little peace to downtown residents no matter how pampered they are presumed to be.
    It was never a park. Before the airport was constructed in the 1930s, it was an amusement park and a baseball stadium.

  • toronno

    Astin, it affects everyone who frequents the waterfront. No, it’s not going to disturb anyone at Yonge and Bloor but how about all of the island visitors, harbourfront daytrippers and anyone who lives near the island runways and landing zone? Not just those at the foot of Bathurst.
    And I wouldn’t be surprised if it disturbs the animal population in the area too… but hey, if it shortens your trip to Montreal or Ottawa, who cares, eh?

  • toronno

    An amusement park is not a park? And a house is not a home…

  • Steeplejax

    The people who complain the most aren’t “hipsters” so much as a clump of cranky superannuated flower children who seem to think with too much free time on their hands and the notion that the waterfront exists for their pleasure only. (Check out their Friday protests at Bathurst Quay and observe the sartorial splendor of 1968.)
    They argue that the airport should be turned into more parkland — conveniently available to them at all hours but not for people living in say, Don Mills or Scarborough, people who go home at the end of the day.
    The sense of entitlement that these anti airport people who live down at the waterfront have is truly remarkable. Then you’ll find those who complain that the airport is only used by a small corporate “elite” at the expense of the people of the city — which is utter nonsense of course, as Porter’s flights are highly competitive and service superior. If you can afford to fly anywhere, you can afford Porter. The thought of people who own waterfront condos in one of the most expensive cities in North America should turn the notion of “elites” on its head. I certainly don’t have that kind of money to afford anything there. Don’t bitch about “elites” when you clearly belong to one.
    And the point made about “who was there first” is a good one — there’s been an airport there since 1939. The condos went up no earlier than the 1970s. Certainly anyone who purchased a waterfront condo should have been aware that there was an operating airport there?
    Close the airport? Don’t think so.

  • redleaf

    Sorry toronno I’m going to be pedantic: to me there’s a big difference between an “amusement park” (ala the Ex) and “parkland”.
    I love that bridge!

  • Astin

    Torrono – funny, you’d think living downtown I’d visit the waterfront or the islands on occasion. Oh wait, I DO! Know what? I’ve never heard a plane, nor seen the seagulls and ducks scatter to the winds.
    It’s odd that I wouldn’t hear a plane over the dull roar of the crowds, buskers, children, frisbee-tossers, and cars driving by. Maybe because it’s nowhere near a frequent enough occurence to be noticed by visitors to the area. This isn’t Pearson we’re talking about.
    In fact, I’ve been with people who found it fascinating and entertaining to find out an airport was right there a long jump off the shore.

  • toronno

    Yes you are. It was a “summer recreation area” to be precise, a place for people of all backgrounds, not just “elites” (what’s with the label, Mabel?) to enjoy.
    I’m surprised that when most major centres are reclaiming their waterfronts and investing in more green space that you’d actually be in favour of an airport situated in one of the city’s greatest natural assets.
    But hey, that’s Toronto – give the population a park, a square, whatever and lease it out to corporate interests as often and as quickly as possible.

  • Lands Down

    You’re conflating the waterfront around the airport with the waterfront around the rest of the city, Toronno. Be more specific. People by the lake at the Bluffs, Ashbridges Bay, Queens Quay, south of high park, by humber college etc won’t even notice the planes. People at the foot of bathurst will. Even then, anecdotally, I don’t find the planes noise exceptional, considering there are plenty of boats, cars and people making plenty of noise at the same time.
    Toronto should hold a referendum to decide this once and for all. Just a guess, but I bet most of us wouldn’t care much about the airport, I bet there would be plenty of support for developing the rest of the Islands as well. Why is it held for the benefit of a few?

  • toronno

    Lands down, you might as well ask why the island airport exists for the benefit of a few? From what I understand most of Porter’s passengers are business travellers. I doubt most of Toronto has ever set foot in the Island airport.
    But if you head down to the ferry docks on a sunny weekend you can see thousands of people heading off to enjoy the islands. Why not give them more space?
    Are you that interested in Porter making a buck?

  • Lands Down

    Yes, i’ve been there many times and wished there was a less irritating way to access the islands.

  • toronno

    Try swimming…

  • Lands Down

    Maybe Porter will add it as a destination?

  • wardnikoff

    Well, I spend alot of time on the island and on the waterfront and the real issue with the island airport isnt that it exists or that it generates noise , the issue lies with island airport expansion. The purpose of the bridge was to facilitate the expansion.
    For those of you not bothered by the island airport now will most likey be bothered by it if larger jets start flying into the heart of the city..

  • ked

    I took Porter down to New York (non business) and it was brilliant, cheap and apparently released less carbon than driving.
    Long Live Porter

  • TokyoTuds

    I just got back from Victoria BC and enjoyed the sea-planes landing in the harbour right in front of my hotel. Check out the video half way down this page:
    I have mixed feelings about the Island Airport, but I agree that the noise complaints at this time are unwarranted. There are many sources of noise in the city.

  • Forced Perfect

    I live in a direct line of sight from the airport on the 17th floor of an apartment building in the article photo. (taken when we moved in:
    There are occasions where I will hear a very loud plane (usually the smaller propeller-driven ones) if I have the window open. Why these people are complaining is beyond me.
    Seriously, I don’t even hear the Porter planes most of the time. People complain because they can or because they have a relatively unique situation (eg. working night shifts, etc.)
    I really loved it a couple years ago when they wanted to build a bridge to replace the boat taking the cars over. I don’t recall the exact numbers but it was like $500,000 to build a new bridge and something like $1,000,000 a year to run the boat. People complained about the bridge saying it would cause way more people to come and use the airport (eh?) and it was canceled.
    For a city that has no money, why not build the damn bridge and save the million a year?

  • AdamSchwabe

    Remember, any pedestrian bridge would also need to be covered to allow people to cross in the winter. My vote is for a tunnel, or perhaps a giant trampoline.

  • minou

    Occasionally being woken up by noise is a fact of life. I get woken up by loud cars with their loud music driving up the street, the construction on the house next door (for over a year now!), the people in the basement setting off the smoke alarm, etc. … But we all have to accept these things. If you know that you’re moving next to an airport you have no right to then complain about the noise it generates. It’s just like the people who move in next to the pig rendering plant since it’s cheaper because of that fact, then complain about the smell and want it closed down.
    @ rek: I’ve been on the Gateshead Bridge and seen it tilt, and it is truly amazing.

  • Robert Lubinski

    The GO and VIA trains leaving Union Stn make more noise than Porter planes. Are there any complaints filed by the condo dwellers right next to the rail corridor? I’m sure there are people being awoken at 9am on Saturday when a three-engine Canadian pulls out of Union but we don’t seem to hear anyone complaining about the trains. This is city living, if you want total peace and quiet on a Sunday morning move to the country – oh wait, they would complain about roosters crowing.

  • Gauldar

    It’s just like the people who move in next to the pig rendering plant since it’s cheaper because of that fact, then complain about the smell and want it closed down.

    Mmmm, melted hog fat.

  • robswizzle

    20>Most of Toronto is pretty ratty.
    Toronto is at its best when it’s ratty. It’ll never be a pretty town, but when it’s allowed to just run wild like some robust weed patch, it’s a pretty great place.

  • rek

    There’s ratty good and then there’s ratty bad.

  • dadoodooman

    Has anyone heard the music coming from the party boats up to 2 or 3 in the morning?
    I work in that area at nights and I can’t believe how much noise comes from each one an how long it lasts (to be expected, I guess, since boats don’t move quite as fast as planes).
    Much of the opposition is fueled by hypocrisy and misinformation. People like wardnikoff and Miller try to make people believe that the next thing around the corner is an expanded airport and large jets flying into it. The airport has not and will not expand as a result of Porter’s operation and jets have been banned from flying into the island.

  • Petra

    don’t you guys realize that TPA and Politicians just fool around with you? They don’t respect you residents