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Development News

Billy Bishop town hall draws 500

Five hundred people showed up to the first town hall discussion of Porter Airlines' proposal to extend the runways at Billy Bishop Airport.

"There was a split," says acting director of the waterfront secretariat Fiona Chapman, "as there usually has been in the meetings, between residents of the waterfront, who are directly affected if you like, and the overall city."

According to Chapman, though there were more voices in favour of the extension, which would allow small jets to take off and land at the downtown airport, they were still outnumbered roughly two-to-one by those opposed.

The opposition was mostly comprised of people in the airport’s immediate vicinity. Their complaints included noise, pollution, traffic, and ecological disruption.

Those in favour spoke of the convenience of being able to board a plane for, say, Vancouver at the base of Bathurst Street, as well as the economic benefits to the city, including one comment from a cab driver explaining the good it would do for him, as well as the hospitality industry. The issue of "gateway experience" – people’s first impressions of Toronto coming straight into downtown instead of the tangle of highways and light industrial land they’re greeted with at Pearson – was also bruited.

Counter-arguments to one of the most popular concerns, noise, included the unprecedented silencing technology behind Porter's proposed jets, Bombardier’s CS100s, the so-called "whisper jets," and the fact that there would be a curfew on whatever noise there was, unlike, as one audience member pointed out, the streetcar that ran 24 hours outside his window.

There will be further public consultations before the Dec. 5 deadline for a final report to City Council.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Fiona Chapman
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