City council decided it would study Porter Airlines' request to lift a ban on jets flying from the Billy Bishop airport on the Toronto Islands.
The 29-15 vote in favour of studying the impact of the Porter proposal took place after a heated debate which saw councillors yelling at each other and, at times, members of the public who were in attendance.
Porter CEO Robert Deluce and several employees sat in the full chamber. Some wore T-shirts that read: "I am onboard."
Residents opposing the project, some from the newly minted NoJetsTO campaign, sat on the other side.
Several Toronto-area residents have written letters to the city complaining about Porter's proposal. Some yacht clubs say it will hurt their ability to sail in the harbour. Some people from as far east as the Beach neighbourhood said the expansion would hinder their enjoyment of the waterfront.
The proposed expansion would have Porter vying to be Canada's third national airline. Porter has already signed a conditional agreement with Bombardier to purchase a fleet of CS100 jets — if the city decides to lift the decades-old ban.
For the long-range jets to fly out of the island airport, the runway would have to be extended into what is now water by 168 metres at each end.
Before the city makes a decision about the ban, it will have to run several studies on how much money the project would generate for the city, anticipated noise levels and what construction would need to happen at the airport for the planes to fly safely.
Porter will pay about $250,000 for the first phase of the studies. It is unclear who will foot the bill for the rest of the studies.