By Jon Mace
The heated issue over the proposed Porter Airline expansion plans are not on the fast track to being resolved.
That means the I’m on Board! and No Jets TO campaigns won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
An executive committee representing the city of Toronto met Tuesday morning, and voted to defer the Island Airport debate until March 25. The airport’s official name is the Billy Bishop City Centre airport.
Robert Deluce, Porter CEO, said in a letter on Monday that Harbourfront attendance has risen 40 per cent since Porter started flying.
Social media sharply retaliated suggesting that pedestrians don’t flock to the waterfront to look at planes.
“Harbourfront Centre itself sees 17 million visits a year,” says Anshul Kapoor the chair of NoJetsTO “We’re ignoring the wishes of all of those people just so we can expand and adhere to the initiatives of a select few.”
Porter Airlines is on a campaign to gain support for its plan to expand the Toronto City Airport runway by 168 metres on each end in order to accommodate jets on Toronto Island.
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“The runway proposal being considered can accommodate the CS100 without any impact on boating in Lake Ontario.” says Porter Airlines in a statement to Humber News. Deluce was referring to the CS100 Bombardier jets which it plans to use if the expansion is approved. The larger jets carry more passengers and can travel longer distances.
“The CS100 has proven to be even quieter than Toronto City Airport’s extremely strict noise limit,” Porter said in its statement.
Kapoor’s grassroots movement says the waterfront will be affected if the plans go ahead.
“What isn’t included is the effect this expansion will have on the Marine Exclusion Zone.” adds Kapoor.
The zone is a section of Toronto harbour bloocked off a by marine buoys, as well as the lake side, where marine traffic is prohibited in order to not interrupt airport traffic as well as to ensure boating safety.
Kapoor told Humber News that any studies of the proposed expansion fail to mention any extension of the current exclusion zone, something he says would be mandatory.
“Our position is that we accept the airport as is, we aren’t trying to shut down the airport. We are just trying to put a stop to expansion” adds Kapoor.
“As long as it doesn’t obstruct my routine I’m okay with it,” says Shakaira John a resident of the waterfront. “I run along the waterfront everyday, and I don’t mind looking at the planes. But I do think that the waterfront should be developed for recreation first and foremost.”
John, 24, lives in a condo on Queen’s Quay, and says she hears the planes but has got used to it.
In December of 2013, the Toronto Board of Health voted unanimously to recommend that the city reject the Porter expansion plan.
Meanwhile, the Union Pearson express project is quietly taking off. The $456 million project that would rush would-be travellers out of the downtown core to Pearson International Airport is scheduled to open in time for the 2015 Pan Am games.