Opponents of a proposal to extend the runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport are angry that Porter Airlines has requested an even bigger expansion less than a day before public consultation on the project is set to begin.
In June, Porter put forward a proposal to extend the island airport’s east-west runway into Lake Ontario by 168 metres on each end. Then Tuesday night, Porter put forward a second proposal that calls for each end of the airport to be extended by 200 metres.
Wednesday, Sept. 4
Fort York - Blue Barracks Rm. 250 Fort York Blvd.
2 to 3 p.m. (drop-in)
3 to 5 p.m. (workshop)
Monday, Sept. 9 Metro Hall - Rooms 308/309 55 John St.
6 to 7 p.m. (drop-in)
7 to 9 p.m. (workshop)
Town Hall meeting, including presentation and discussion: Direct Energy Convention Centre, Exhibition Place - Salon 205 100 Princes' Blvd.
6 to 7 p.m. (drop-in)
7 to 9 p.m. (presentations and discussion)
The second proposal comes as the city is set to host the first in a series of public meetings about the project this afternoon.
Porter wants the runway lengthened to accommodate Bombardier CS100 jets. The company has placed a conditional order for 12 CS100s. Porter currently flies Q400 turboprops from the island airport.
If Porter is able to move forward with its plans, the airline says it will be able to expand service to new destinations, such as Los Angeles, Florida, Calgary and the Caribbean.
Interviewed on Metro Morning Wednesday, Porter CEO Robert Deluce said the longer runway would allow the planes to use less power during takeoff, resulting in reduced noise.
"Our objective has always been to design the best possible runway to allow Torontonians to continue to enjoy the waterfront, especially boaters," Deluce told host Matt Galloway.
Before the runway can be extended, Porter will first need to amend an existing tripartite agreement between the city, the federal government and the Toronto Port Authority.
As part of that process, the city will hold two public consultation workshops about the issue. The first meeting is set for this afternoon, the second is scheduled for Monday. The consultation process will continue with a town hall meeting on Sept. 12.
The city is also gathering feedback about the issue online.
The proposal will go before the city's executive committee in December.
Groups opposed fear noise, environmental damage
A group of downtown residents are opposed to the expansion plans, citing concerns about noise and potential environmental damage to Lake Ontario.
Anshul Kapoor is with the group No Jets T.O. and says Porter's latest request comes too late.
"City staff has not had the time and due diligence to analyze this request," said Kapoor. "Yet, they have to present it to the public at the public consultation and try and get their feedback."
Kapoor said flying jets in and out of the airport will further industrialize the waterfront, making it a less enjoyable place for residents.
However Deluce said the C-series jets, which are not yet in service, "are the quietest commercial jets in production."
Galloway asked Deluce about rumours that Porter was rewarding people who support their proposal by entering them in a draw for free airline tickets.
"There’s never been any linkage between support that we receive ... and the occasional giveaway that we have on radio shows and elsewhere," Deluce said.