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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).


  • Yes

    Flew Porter yet again this weekend.
    Words cannot do it justice just how great it is having them at the Island Airport.

    Looking forward to this expansion. Long over due.

  • Yes

    I should also add i lived on Stadium Road for 4 years and dont have one thing bad to say about Porter, noise, etc.

  • KRoberts

    I love that airport – looking forward to the expansion – hope they eventually get flights to New Orleans :) (some of their newer routes would be to Florida… so… yah, please take me to NOLA, Porter!)

  • Lee Zamparo

    The airport is great, but I’m wary about opening up a no-jets tripartite agreement. It’s not a simple matter. Porter first needs to convince the public then city council that a longer runway & expanded airspace won’t make life worse for man nor beast.

    • Paul Kishimoto

      “The City’s press release” contains a link to the webpage where they’ve posted Porter’s documentation:

      Do you find it convincing? Also, what do you mean by “expanded airspace”?

      • Lee Zamparo

        I don’t find it particularly convincing.

        As the Air Canada submission states, the proposed jets are not yet in production, so any data regarding how many decibels they generate is guess-work. As the WestJet submission states, amending the Tripartite agreement to allow just the CS100 jets means giving Porter a competitive advantage. Should the city do this? I’m not sure.

        What I mean by “expanded airspace” exactly as it sounds. The Porter proposal suggests that the existing runway will require an extension, but this could also entail that the flight paths these jets take to land on that runway will be extended so they can stop safely. And that means more noise exposed to more of the waterfront environment. Are we willing to undertake this?

        I accept that jet technology has changed dramatically since the 1980s, but I’m also aware that there has probably never been a more desperate, pliable administration in the city of Toronto. An administration that would gladly champion the requests of a high profile local business, especially if it could be turned into political success. In short, I don’t trust the executive to put the best interests of Toronto ahead of the best interests of Porter and Rob Ford.

  • OgtheDim

    I note that Porter has form for stacking comment sections of websites that discuss this issue.

    • Canadianskeezix

      I’ve never seen a discussion board that hasn’t been swamped by the 5 or 6 members of CommunityAir.

      • OgtheDim

        Globe and Mail for one isn’t.

        But, I can pretty much guarantee that Yes is a flunky.

        • Canadianskeezix

          The CommunityAir folks have come out below, with comments even more vapid than “Words cannot do it justice just how great it is”.

          I fear this will be the quality of the overall debate.

          • OgtheDim


            PlantinMoretus is trolling.

            The rest is nuance.

      • OgtheDim

        Oh, and before you ask, I actually see merit in an airport runway expansion.

        I am not a fan of only allowing one particular type of jet. Free enterprise for all is the cry…unless its Deluce and Bombardier.

  • Canadianskeezix

    I think that the island airport is a great asset. It doesn’t necessarily need jets to serve the community, though, and I remain unconvinced as to their appropriateness. Having said that, I hope that any approval or refusal is based on the facts, not political diatribes. Fingers crossed.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Is it at all plausible for the runway extensions and approach/take off of jets to be done only on the west side of the airport, and not the inner harbour? I think this would mostly solve the noise issue.

    • Paul Kishimoto

      Isn’t the whole thing premised on the new aircraft being so quiet that there *is* no “noise issue”?

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        I don’t expect the interested parties on either side of the issue are being entirely truthful about the noise, so this might have rendered the whole thing moot.

        • Paul Kishimoto

          It’s not Porter making claims about the properties of the aircraft—it’s Bombardier (see )

          Where do their interests lie? Airlines have put down solid orders for this aircraft, the first flight will happen any day now, and the product website still proudly advertises the same numbers. If they knew they would not be able to deliver on those promises, you would expect them to be managing expectations, given the amount of money involved. Investors hate surprises.

          Porter’s claim also rests on the reports (which take the aircraft characteristics as one input) from third-party engineering and environmental consulting firms that they have hired. Those firms have an interest in their own reputation for credible analysis, which affects their ability to get future business—but also in satisfying the client (i.e. Porter, whose interests are clear). These push opposite directions, so I agree it’s important that the reports be scrutinized to see if they’re technically sound.

          Is the analysis flawed? Would a proper study show that noise levels will be unacceptable? If not, then compared to Adam Vaughan’s line about “environmental problems in the lake” the noise claim seems pretty reliable.

      • Michael Cole

        Normally yes, the runway chosen is based on weather, but that is when there are multiple runways to choose from. There are three runways at the Island but only one can be extended, the longest, 8/26. The other two (15/33 and 6/24) are much too short and cannot be extdended without significant cost, far greater even than extending 8/26. Course this brings up another question, what happens if there is a huge storm like there was tonight, a nice cross wind and only one runway to choose from? I guess fly with lots of life insurance.

        • Paul Kishimoto

          “8/26″, as the symbol you used implies, is *two* runways: 08, and 26. This is the difference Rek was talking about: eastbound (08) versus westbound (26) arrivals/departures. No one is talking about extending the other runways or using them for jets or turboprops.

          Aircraft are required to carry a fuel reserve. If weather is unsuitable for landing (i.e. the “nice” crosswind is above specified limits), they can hold at altitude until it improves, or divert (e.g. to Pearson).

          If by “lots of life insurance” you’re trying to imply there is some safety risk associated with the location or layout of this particular airport, of course that’s ludicrous.

  • Better_Canada

    As a regular business traveler, I flew Porter on Day 2 in October 2006 – and continue to fly them today (*10 segments so far this month).

    I support their existing Q400 Business-model, but do NOT support the addition of Jets and “Snowbird” routes to Florida, Vegas, etc.

    The #1 value of the Island Airport for Business Travel is that – unlike YYZ – you aren’t standing in-line behind lots of Disney-bound Tourists.

    I am looking for quick, easy travel with as little human-interaction as possible. Adding jets and the proposed new routes would undermine the core value-proposition of Porter’s current business-model.

    • PlantinMoretus

      shill shill shill!!!

      • OgtheDim

        How is he a shill if he doesn’t want the tourist routes?

        • PlantinMoretus

          The guff about how great Porter is.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Have you never flown Porter?

          • dsmithhfx

            This “greatness” of Porter is dependent on two things: it’s not Air Canada, and it’s not Pearson.

          • the_lemur

            A lot of airlines are not Air Canada and manage to be very good, and many airports are not Pearson yet not as good as YTZ.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Those things are definitely in the positive column, but hardly the extent of it.

          • vampchick21

            He didn’t wax poetic dude. He just said he flies Porter regularly as a business traveler. Because convenience. My company has partners coming in from New York on a regular basis who fly Porter into the Island Airport. Doesn’t make them a shill, it makes them busy people who come into Toronto almost weekly on business who find the location of that airport the most convenient.

          • PlantinMoretus

            Your post is even shillier.
            Here’s the thing: WHO CARES if some business knobs from NYC or wherever find the island airport “convenient”? The island and lakeshore are for *everyone*, not just them. They don’t have priority.
            They find Pearson a bit too much hassle? Cry me a river.

          • vampchick21

            Oh for the love of…..there isn’t an eyeroll big enough for you.

          • PlantinMoretus

            Eyerolls are all you’ve got? Makes sense, seeing as you’re so awestruck by NYC business scum.

          • vampchick21

            Awestruck? Dude, I just pointed out a fact. You’re the one screaming shill for no valid reason other than someone isn’t screaming kill the airport with you. My eyeroll is about just how annoying you are being. How about instead of blind hate and hysteria and accusing someone of being awestruck you present equally valid facts for not expanding the airport without the hate, hysteria and stupid, baseless accusations.

            Not that you will.

          • PlantinMoretus

            Facts that are “equally valid” to “my company flies people in from NYC”? No problem.
            Jets suck. They’re noisy and polluting. That’s why residential areas near airports are generally considered unappealing and why people generally don’t live near airports if they can afford not to.
            Jets around the waterfront will have the same noisy and polluting impacts as they have anywhere else. The transformation of Toronto’s waterfront from industrial hellscape to attractive park/recreation/event space will have been for naught. It will be a loss for the WHOLE GTA region. It’s not worth it just for the convenience of a few travellers who already have options.

          • vampchick21

            The first part of your post just underlines that you are a complete jerk. Yes, partners AND consultants with my company and multiple other companies use the convenience of the Island Airport to fly in and out of Toronto on business. That is a simple fact. Not shill, not made up out of my head. Just a simple fact. See, it’s your attitude that makes me want to slap you back to stupid.

            Jets are indeed noisy and polluting, that too is a fact. “suck” is an opinion. You might want to note the difference.

            Not having the actual interest to bother looking up dense environmental assessments and not having the time to wander around the waterfront asking the opinions of the people who live there, I can’t support or refute your hyperbolic belief that the Island Airport is going to destroy everything.

          • PlantinMoretus

            So far you’ve come up with eyerolls and ad hominem attacks, which makes it all the more hilarious that you are criticizing my debating skills.

            Not that there is anything to seriously debate. People don’t like to live or recreate near anyplace with jets flying in and out. Try to find ONE community that actually requested or demanded the creation or expansion of an airport with jets. Just try. I don’t think there is one, but there are literally hundreds of communities that have fought against such airports.

            And you couldn’t work out that jets suck BECAUSE they are noisy and polluting? Even with the two statements right next to each other? Dial 9 Merlin.

          • vampchick21

            You know what? You do this all the damn time. I’m sick of it. I am not a fucking shill or awestruck by people in suits with NY accents because I said they find it convenient to fly into the Island airport.

            See, you miss my point. I actually didn’t come into this for or against the damn thing, I honestly DON’T BLOODY CARE. I just pointed out something. YOU took it personal in the first fucking place, so don’t cry because I took it right back at you.

          • PlantinMoretus

            You’re swearing a lot for someone who doesn’t care.
            Also, you ASKED for facts and I gave them to you. Don’t whine about it now.

          • vampchick21

            No, I suggested you post facts supporting your point of view rather than calling someone a shill and accusing them of worshiping the ground walked upon by evil wicked NY capitalist pigs.

            I swear because a) I’m fustrated with people like you who just throw out whatever and see who bites what, and b) I’m quitting smoking. frankly I think I took it very easy on you.

            Seriously. Look at the path. I said people that work for my company use the island airport, you called me a shill who was awestruck. Do you even read these things? I suggested you post some facts that support your view rather than scream hysterics, you did (along with another try at whatever the fuck it is you do), I responded, you went back to nasty idiot asshole jerkface. I swore. You waaaaah’d. End of story. Deal.

          • PlantinMoretus

            Wow, you’re really a mess, aren’t you?

          • vampchick21

            wtf are you even talking about now? Seriously, you just rage against the machine and don’t even try to stay on track. Go bother someone else now, I’m no longer interested.

          • Testu

            You know, boats are noisy and polluting too. In fact with smaller, less efficient engines and (presumably) less frequent and thorough maintenance (due to varied private owners) the marinas are a far worse source of pollution than the airport is. Why not have them shut down instead? After all, at least the airport provides a service to the public, the vehicles in the marinas are exclusively private pleasure craft. And there are a lot more of them on any given day during the season then there are flights out of Billy Bishop.

            I’m not suggesting it’s zero sum here, but if you’re going to go off about pollution on the waterfront there are much worse offenders than the airport.

          • Testu

            Two things. You do know what shill means right? That’s not really what’s happening here.

            Also, if your issue with Porter/the airport is the private use of the island, then I assume you’re also against the residents of Ward island living there. Not to mention the marina, since both it and the airport are being use for private and commercial vehicles.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            The island is for everyone – including people who are flying. Just as the lake shore is for everyone – including cargo ships.

            The very last thing this city needs is to shunt non-recreational use away from such a downtown-adjacent area.

          • OgtheDim

            Meh….that’s your issue.

            Reading through your correpondence with vampchick, the word nuance seems to be unknown to you.

            You might enjoy your black and white world.

            The rest of us live in shades that you obviously prefer not to deal with.

            Again…that’s your issue.

          • PlantinMoretus

            Coming from an ally of vampchick – that’s rich.

          • dsmithhfx

            You know, if someone really wanted to discredit opposition to the Porter expansion plan as a bunch of hysterical loonies, they would post the same stuff you do.

  • Guest

    Don’t live near the airport, don’t use it but Porter should be denied simply because Deluce is such a huge sleazeball. Quick someone dig out comments made by him years ago that demonstrate the bad faith coming from this guy.

    • Canadianskeezix

      I like your approach to city building. Let’s base decisions on who we think are sleazeballs.

      • dsmithhfx

        Their name is legion…

  • Pete Forde

    I’m a frequent if not regular Porter flyer. I live at Queen and Spadina so being able to get to an airport that doesn’t make me feel like a criminal quickly is a huge win.

    That said, a lot of the magic has gone away for me. The prices have skyrocketed compared to before, certainly. Now there’s priced seating and they’ve mostly stopped serving substantial food on the flights. I remember taking my first flight to Ottawa and being blown away both by the quality of service and the fact that they served me a hot roast beef sandwich and a small bottle of red wine on a 50 minute flight that cost under $100.

    I have very mixed feelings about the proposed additions. I have noticed that the ferry and terminal are getting busier all of the time, and the staff just aren’t as willing to go the extra mile and win you over or help if there’s a problem.

    From what I understood, standardizing on one type of plane was a solid business move because it allowed them to focus their entire maintenance fleet on repairing one type of vehicle. Now adding a jet to the mix presumably means that the costs will once again be passed on to us.

    In the end, I’ll still keep taking it because flying out of Pearson is a universally exhausting experience. I wish that I could say I’m still a passionate Porter fan, but these days it’s basically nothing more than a notch above average but in a very convenient place.

    • dsmithhfx

      Well said.

  • Canadianskeezix

    It’s downtown Toronto. Traffic is to be expected, and I am not aware of any traffic study suggesting that the island airport is adversely impacting downtown traffic in a manner differently than any other major use in the downtown. Using your logic, we’d never build anything in downtown Toronto again. The irony is that the island airport is the one airport where it is just as easy to get to it, if not easier, by free shuttle than by car or taxi. And corruption? How so? Typing in caps doesn’t take the place of facts, Luke.

    There may be reasons not to approve jets on the Islands, and I can think of a few, but this diatribe is not it. Comments like Luke’s are exactly the fact-deprived hysterical nonsense that I fear will dominate this debate (potentially on bothe sides).

  • Realist

    Jets should be at the airport (Pearson).
    I still think they should remove the aiport from the island entirely. Toronto island should be our central waterfeature, it shouldn’t be dragged down by a wanna be airport.

  • rich1299

    Toronto’s central waterfront would be so much more appealing if the airport weren’t there. People rave about Chicago’s waterfront all the time, the big difference between the two is that Chicago got rid of their waterfront airport while Toronto kept its. I usually avoid the central waterfront area because of the airport but I was down there recently to see the new Jack Layton statue and was once again reminded of how annoying the airport is especially when planes are taking off.

    Just imagine what we could do with that space if the airport were gone and the land returned to the public, the possibilities are huge, without that airport we too could have a great waterfront but with it our central waterfront area will never be more than mediocre.

    • vampchick21

      And that is how the argument of ‘no island airport=improved waterfront’ should be presented. :)

    • Lee Zamparo

      I suppose time will tell, even the central waterfront area contains parts that won’t be fully developed for another 10 to 15 years (if at all, let’s not forget where we live). In any event, the adjacent regions to the West, and (in time) to the East show promise.

      Even if council somehow decided to re-purpose the Island airport, I doubt we have the ability to make BBCCA vacate the premises; we can’t even get the industrial tenants we don’t want to vacate the Port Lands.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    You realize the Quay isn’t going to be under construction forever, right?

  • psycop

    How about this idea — why don’t we build a new island airport further out in the lake on land created from in-fill (building off the southwestern edge of the island, which is infrequently used as is), and turn the current island airport into a park/mid-rise neighbourhood. This way the noise from approach and take-offs will not be such an issue, and some selective property sales could help pay for the new infrastructure.

  • David

    I’m confused.. Our government spent $4 billion dollars constructing terminal 1, which is grossly underutilized and another $500 million dollars on a rail link to the airport which can get you to the airport in 20 minutes from downtown. I’m sorry, why do we need another airport? and jet’s are incredibly loud machines, a turboprop engine pales in comparison in noise levels. Don’t believe me? Go park your car out under the flight path on Airport Road a few hundred yards before the planes touch down. Wait for a turbo prop to fly by, then wait for a comparable sized c-series jet to fly by and come back here and tell me there’s not much difference. They are freaking loud, ear piercing loud at close range. And I’m sorry to say but I don’t think people out there are really prepared for what it’s like to be near a jet close range, let alone hundreds of jets taking off and landing daily.

    • the_lemur

      Who currently flies C-series jets into Pearson?
      What is the noise difference between a C-series and a more commonly used jet such as an Airbus or 737?
      How many flights per day would YTZ realistically see if C-series were allowed?