City Hall Public Consultation: As it Happened

Bev Dywan Offers Recap of January 27 Public Consultation David_Smiley_Photo_Public_Consultation_2014-01-27TORONTO - The power of citizen participation was palpable in the jam-packed Council Chamber at City Hall for the 3rd public consultation on the waterfront jet plans. Read the play-by-play: The council amphitheatre was filled to capacity, with an overflow room nearby. The audience was primarily made up of ‘NoJetsTO’ supporters, with some others wearing yellow buttons. Chris Dunn from the City started, with a short report about the work that City staff had be doing on this docket, for the past 6 months. Staff is recommending a delay in reviewing the proposal until March 2015. There were a number of gaps in commentary by concerned parties of reports received by the City, Transport Canada had indicated that the preliminary flight data information had not been complied with (because it is not available), and there was no clear direction on the airport expansion by the Toronto Port Authority. As the TPA wants not only to encourage the runway extension, they have also asked to have an extension to the Tripartite Agreement. Yet, the only thing they could provide was their 2012 Masterplan. Which did not include any contingencies for jets. No wonder the City is rejecting this proposal as being premature! Transport Canada then spoke, with a review of their bureaucratic position. Very little information of substance was provided, but the speaker did identify that they are a regulatory body, and defer most aspects of compliance to the TPA. Unfortunately. Finally Geoff Wilson got up to speak. A seemingly nice guy trapped in a terrible organization, he tried to inform and cajole, and spent most of his time toeing his party’s line about their effectiveness. His arrogance in retort to a question about why the Island schoolchildren, stranded due to a breakdown od the City’s ferry, had to wait and hour and a half to get across the runway. ‘His side’ and most others in the audience cringed at his response that the TPA was doing them a favour. His speech was peppered with obtuse phrases more often coined by Robert Deluce like ‘no material difference’ and ‘no meaningful change’, which of course are statements that offer no quantification, thus are meaningless. The floor was opened by the chair Fiona Chapman, who allowed 2 minutes per statement or question. 90% of the public speakers spoke form the heart, with issues asking why the Board of Health’s condemning impact study would be ignored (to which Geoff Wilson stated that they continue to work with the Board on issues, bringing a quizzical look and head shaking from Monica Campbell, the Director of Healthy Public Policy), through to sailors, parents of children concerned for the future, those to whom the purity of the water is paramount, citizens living in Weston,  the Beach, the Waterfront and Hillcrest, all against the jets and runway extension proposal. Some yellow buttons got up to the microphone with enlightened comments like ‘I walk my dog at the water and the planes never bother me’, and ‘my convenience is important to me’. Typical references to imaginary economic benefit, which was never fully explained, were sprinkled in the yellow button comments. The public forum clearly showed that the jets and runway extension proposal is flawed, premature and not in the public’s interest. As much as shiny TPA boss Geoff Wilson wants it, this dog don’t hunt.