Letter to Council: Island Airport Expansion Harmful for City

NoJetsTO Supporter Outlines Concerns in Comprehensive Letter to City Councillors TORONTOI am writing to ask that the request to allow jets to fly from the Toronto Island Airport be denied. I am writing as a homeowner in midtown Toronto who has no financial or commercial connection to this matter. I am just an ordinary father who enjoys spending time with his family at many of Toronto’s natural assets, in particular, at Toronto’s reinvigorated Waterfront. I attended the November public meeting where opposition was evident, if not unanimous, from all those not involved commercially in some way with Porter, Bombardier or the TPA. I have also remained engaged in the public conversation and the available documents that have been circulating. It is clear that this proposal represents no improvement to the city and has many adverse impacts, which I’m sure you would agree, should be the key questions when considering such proposals. In fact, revisions to the Tripartite Agreement are only allowed if they improve the airport without any additional negative impacts. The specific text regarding the Tripartite Agreement says that revisions to the agreement “may be undertaken, provided that the City is satisfied that improvements to the airport facilities can be made without adverse impacts on the surrounding residential and recreational environment” (emphasis added by City staff, from Nov. 21st 2013 Exec. Committee Staff Action Report) Clearly this is not the case. This proposal has many documented adverse impacts: MichaelChart1 MichaelChart2 The experts tasked by the city for advice and feedback have reported that this proposal will have a negative effect on Toronto’s residents: Urban Strategies Inc. suggests that the ‘protection and enhancement of the health of central waterfront residents and the City as a whole calls for a reduction of current and future airport impacts.’ (from Nov. 21st, 2013 Exec. Committee Staff Action Report) The Toronto Medical Officer of Health “In light of the public health evidence outlined in the Health Impact Assessment, that the Board of Health recommend to City Council that the proposed expansion of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and introduction of jet engines be rejected”. (December 9th, 2013, Toronto Board of Health) City staff indicate that there are ‘existing operational conflicts between the airport and its neighbourhood which require resolution at current passenger levels’. (from Nov. 21st 2013 Exec. Committee Staff Action Report) City staff indicate that there has been ‘conflict between the airport and its surrounding community, exacerbated by the airport’s proximity to sensitive uses such as residential buildings, schools and parks. Conflicts between the airport and the community have not been adequately addressed’. (from Nov. 21st 2013 Exec. Committee Staff Action Report) City staff indicate that ‘noise is also a significant source of conflict between the airport and the surrounding community. A Community Liaison Committee was established for BBTCA in 2010, however, the lack of significant remedial actions arising out of committee discussions has led to reduced participation and confidence in the process by community members.’ (from Nov. 21st 2013 Exec. Committee Staff Action Report) City staff indicate that ‘Ideally, airports are centred within significant buffer lands which allow, clear unobstructed approaches and departures for the aircraft. BBTCA is within a built-up urban environment where such buffering is not possible.’ (from Nov. 21st 2013 Exec. Committee Staff Action Report) City staff note that Toronto’s Waterfront is designated as a ‘City-wide asset and regeneration area’ and within this framework ‘the airport is designated a Park.’ Comments from the four public meetings held respecting this proposal were ‘predominantly negative for a range of reasons, from highly localized noise, traffic and environmental concerns to broader concerns about scale and fit of the airport within the emerging revitalized waterfront’. (from Nov. 21st, 2013 Exec. Committee Staff Action Report) This is in spite of the fact that those with commercial interests, in particular, Porter Airlines, arranged to pack the meetings with their employees and supporters. Those with no commercial interests, and opposed, were taking their own personal time to help protect Toronto. The TPA ‘did not respond to the majority of the City’s issues as listed.’ (from TPA response dated Nov. 7th, 2103 to Oct. 24th, 2013 itemization of current operational issues, from Nov. 21st 2013 Exec. Committee Staff Action Report) The TPA ‘do not believe the airport’s passengers are the primary source of increased traffic congestion in the surrounding neighbourhood’. (from Nov. 21st 2013 Exec. Committee Staff Action Report) The evidence that is already available is quite decisive. The proposal to amend the Tripartite Agreement offers no net benefit to the residents and the City of Toronto and the adverse impacts are significant. As stewards of the City, we all share responsibility to make these important decisions that are in the best short and long-term interests of the City. Thank you for your attention. I welcome any correspondence on this matter. Sincerely, Michael Szego Twitter: @mszego