Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he likes the idea of bringing jets to the island airport, provided there is not a noise problem with them.
"I don't see really what the downfall is," Ford said Thursday, the day after Porter Airlines formally announced its intent to seek permission to fly jets from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
The airline wants fly a fleet of new Bombardier CS100 jets that Porter president and CEO Robert Deluce described as being "comparably quiet" to the Q400 turboprops that are currently taking off and landing at the island.
To bring in the new planes, Porter will need to extend the runway and also amend a tripartite agreement between the city, the federal government and the Toronto Port Authority, so that it can have permission to fly jets off the island.
For the mayor, however, the main issue remains the noise level on the waterfront.
"The only thing I’m worried about is noise, but they’re saying [the CS100 jets are] very quiet," Ford said.
"So, if there’s not a noise issue, there’s really not an issue."
Benefits and drawbacks
If Porter is able to move forward with its plans, the airline says it will be able to expand service to take passengers to new destinations for the company in the United States and western Canada.
Ford said that bringing jet service to the island airport would create jobs and benefit Toronto’s business community.
When asked if he thought council would support the Porter expansion plans, Ford said "they should."
However, several council members, including Karen Stintz and Adam Vaughan have already raised concerns about having jets at the island airport.
On Thursday, Vaughan told CBC News that Ford's vision for Toronto, including for the future of the island airport, was "out of step" with others in the city.
"Nobody wants jets on the waterfront, nobody wants to pave Lake Ontario," he said.
Coun. Peter Milczyn said he did not want to see the airport extend its "footprint" on the waterfront, even though he was not necessarily opposed to the presence of jets.
"Personally, I might not object to a jet if it's as quiet as a turboprop, but I think a significant lengthening of a runway — that raises much bigger issues about our waterfront and impacts on our waterfront," he told reporters Thursday.
'What a shock'
Former Toronto mayor David Miller has also entered the fray, telling CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Thursday that bringing jet service to the island airport would hurt the city’s ongoing waterfront revitalization efforts.
The current mayor was not surprised at his predecessor's opposition.
"What a shock," Ford said.
Ten years ago, Miller ran a successful campaign for mayor on a platform that included a vow to kill a planned bridge to the island airport.