Jet traffic one step closer at the Toronto Island Airport
Toronto's waterfront moved a step closer to hosting jet traffic this evening. City council have voted 29-15 in favour of studying the possible effects of new the new "whisper jets" Porter airlines wants to fly from downtown to destinations across the continent. The report will also look into expanding the runway at Billy Bishop to accommodate the larger planes.
Some councillors expressed concern the added noise and pollution from jet traffic wasn't worth even the cost of the report, which could be between $800,000 and $1 million. In an interesting turn of events, mayor Rob Ford, deputy mayor Doug Holyday, and coun. Doug Ford voted in favour of using sole-sourced contracts in the process of compiling the study, something they've previously criticized.
There was a heated moment when coun. Mike Del Grande appeared to get upset with waterfront residents who have expressed concern over the additional aircraft noise. "Is that any different to somebody buying a house by a school and saying 'I don't want to hear the recess bell anymore'? ... Don't buy a house by an airport," he said.
Del Grande also took aim at members of the public watching proceedings. "The bullies come into this chamber and they bully the councillors. Look at the [Porter employees] on the other side [of the room] - this is how we do it in Scarborough, we're all polite."
Porter airlines CEO Robert Deluce expects passengers at Toronto's downtown airport to significantly increase in the next few years. NOJetsTO, a group opposed to the expansion, has attracted signatures from author Margaret Atwood and former mayor John Sewell.
Do you think it's OK for Porter to fly jets out of the island airport? What restrictions should Toronto place on airport expansion, if any? Do you think Billy Bishop Airport is an asset or a threat to the Toronto Islands and waterfront?
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.