Toronto Star: Porter Jet Proposal Splits Packed Crowd at Town Hall
Toronto Star Article Calls Deluce Out for Busing in Porter Employees September 19, 2013 TORONTO - Proponents and opponents flooded a heated town hall meeting Thursday night about Porter Airlines’ proposal to fly new CSeries jets from Toronto’s island airport.
Advocates ranging from a limo driver to a frequent flyer to New York and newly hired Porter employee argued that Porter’s expansion would benefit the city’s economy. Opponents included Barry Lipton, an island resident who brought a giant black fabric circle to highlight just how big the new engines are on Bombardier’s new jet.
“What happens if there’s a bird strike?” he asked, and one of the engines failed. Joseph Szwalek, regional director of civil aviation for Transport Canada, said before any aircraft wins certification, requirements must be met. If Porter’s jet plans fall short, “they won’t be certified.”
The CSeries jet, which had its first flight on Monday, is expected to enter commercial service in about a year, though detailed data on everything from noise levels to fuel efficiency won’t available for months.
City officials are in a highly unusual situation of assessing the Porter Airlines’ proposal, even though the airport’s operator, the Toronto Port Authority, and the regulator, Transport Canada, have not taken an official position on the expansion plan.
However, the port authority, which has paid more than $560,000 in fees related to the city’s review so far, has asked Transport Canada to review two Porter proposals to extend the main runway, in one case by 168 metres at each end, and in another by 200 metres at each end.
Christopher Dunn, the city’s project manager overseeing the review, said if the city doesn’t have enough data on noise levels, it won’t be able to make a recommendation to city council.
Jane Steele Moore, who lives near Eglinton Ave. and Avenue Rd., told the meeting that those who live near the island’s Billy Bishop Airport were lucky, because the curfew prohibits planes from landing and taking off between 11 p.m. and 6:45 a.m. She pulled out a map, showing various TTC overnight Blue Night routes, noting that for other Toronto residents, streetcars and buses are running all the time.
Porter Airlines has placed a conditional order for 12 jets, but it must first overcome a huge hurdle — winning over city officials and then city council — to lift the jet ban at Toronto’s island airport as well as extend the existing runway into Lake Ontario.
It is unclear who would pay for the changes as well as infrastructure upgrades near Bathurst St., and a city staff report has made clear the city wants a commitment from the port authority over whether it would bear the costs.
At the end of the three-hour meeting, City Councillor Adam Vaughan, who represents the area, also questioned the speed of this process.
“It takes us almost two years to put a stop sign in your neighbourhoods,” he said, “And yet this decision has been asked of us in a few weeks.”
He worried that city council will made a decision before all the information is available.
Porter CEO Robert Deluce told reporters that he believes the time frame set by city staff can be met, adding Bombardier has “unequivocably” said it will concentrate on the noise data the city requires.
“If I were Adam Vaughan, I would not be proud of the fact that it took two years to put a stop sign in place,” Deluce said.
Asked whether Porter urged its employees to attend the town hall, Deluce said no one was rewarded in any way. The airline did provide a bus to Exhibition Place for employees, he said.
Anshul Kapoor, who chairs NoJetsTo, which opposes island airport expansion, said the review is being rushed.
“We don't know why it's being rushed,” he said. “The city is in no way capable of coming to a decision in nine weeks, when a health study takes upwards of a year.”
Denys Jones, commodore of the National Yacht Club, questioned why Porter Airlines has just dropped a new proposal for a longer runway, when Deluce had originally promised the marine exclusion zone would not be touched.
“Why are you in such a hurry? The aircraft hasn’t been tested,” Jones said. “We haven’t got a clue what the noise is.”
Deluce acknowledged that he had assured Jones that “it would not impede the access of boaters to the inner harbour or the lake.”
But Deluce added consultants felt that the second proposal for a longer runway should be brought forward for consideration, because it could bring other benefits including lower power during takeoff. Source: Toronto Star article