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cityscape

A History of Island Airport Expansion Schemes

With Porter Airlines trying to expand Billy Bishop Airport, here's a look back at a century of controversy over the site.

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Leafing through the history of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is like listening to a broken record. Every few years the groove locks on yet another proposal to expand the Island airport’s facilities. Until the arrival of Robert Deluce and Porter Airlines, most of these visions failed to take flight. Even ideas that became reality endured lengthy delays. In fact, the pedestrian tunnel between the mainland and the airport that’s currently under construction is a revival of a project briefly worked on during the mid-1930s.

While we wait to see if the staff study authorized by city council Monday night leads to the changes Porter Airlines CEO Robert Deluce desires (he’d like to introduce jet service, currently banned on the Island), here’s a look back at how the airport was born, and at previous proposals to alter the status quo.

Click through the image gallery, above, to learn more.

Additional material from More Than an Island by Sally Gibson (Toronto: Irwin, 1984), Unbuilt Toronto by Mark Osbaldeston (Toronto: Dundurn, 2008), the July 6, 1937; August 19, 1938; September 9, 1939; December 31, 1963; and May 29, 1974 editions of the Globe and Mail, and the July 10, 1937 edition of the Toronto Star.

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