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cityscape

The City Will Hold Public Consultations on Jets at the Island Airport

Members of the public will have their say on Porter's controversial expansion proposal.

A Porter turboprop lands at Billy Bishop Airport  Photo by Still The Oldie, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

A Porter turboprop lands at Billy Bishop Airport. Photo by Still The Oldie, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

It’s been more than four months since Porter Airlines announced that it would be seeking permission to fly jets out of Billy Bishop Airport on the Toronto Islands, and now, at last, we’ve arrived at the part of the process where members of the public can get involved. Earlier today, the City announced a series of three public-consultation sessions on the jet proposal, all of which are guaranteed to be tense.

Porter wants jets so that it can increase its reach. The airline’s current fleet of turboprop planes can only fly short distances, but Porter is required to use them because of the airport’s tripartite agreement, a set of legal requirements that, among other things, restricts the types of aircraft that can be used on the island.

Porter has claimed that the particular model of jet it plans to buy—the Bombardier CS100—would be no noisier than the existing turboprops. In theory, this would invalidate one of the main arguments against jets on the island: namely, that they’d rattle the windows of all the nice condos and businesses down by the waterfront. But the truth of Porter’s noise claim has yet to be demonstrated (in fact, the CS100 is still in development), and people also oppose Porter’s plans for different reasons. Some, including Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), have suggested that opening the Islands up to jets would lead the way to dramatically increased air traffic on the lakefront, and that lengthening the airport’s runway to accommodate jets would cause environmental problems in the lake.

These newly announced public consultation sessions are part of a study process authorized by city council in May. According to a timetable released by the City last month, council is expected to decide on the airport issue in October. [UPDATE: August 28, 2013, 1:00 PM A more recent timetable says a final report will go to council in December.]

Details on the consultation sessions are in the City’s press release. Here are the times, dates, and locations:

  • Wednesday, September 4, 2–3 p.m. (drop-in), 3–5 p.m. (workshop). Fort York, Blue Barracks Room (250 Fort York Boulevard).
  • Monday, September 9, 6–7 p.m. (drop-in), 7–9 p.m. (workshop). Metro Hall, Rooms 308 and 309 (55 John Street).
  • Thursday, September 12, 6–7 p.m. (drop-in), 7–9 p.m. (presentations and discussion). Direct Energy Convention Centre, Salon 205 (100 Princes’ Boulevard).

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