Councillor John Parker Opposes Jet Plans

JohnParker City Councillor for Ward 26 Speaks Out Against Jet Plans: Read his Statement TORONTO - Over the past year or so I have received a large number of enquiries concerning the proposal to amend the existing tripartite island airport agreement to accommodate new, larger, aircraft than the ones covered in the original agreement. To date, I have replied to the enquiries with a response along the lines of the comments below. The issue has ramped up again. I am getting a lot of messages urging me to vote one way or another on the matter – which, incidentally, has not yet appeared on any agenda of any committee or other body on which I even have a vote. Just to make my position on the general matter clear to as many Ward 26 residents as possible, I herewith put my comments below into general circulation. My comments are expressed with the greatest of respect for the positions that have been advanced by others who have commented on the matter, and to all of the parties that have a stake in the outcome: Jets at the island? Not now. Maybe not ever. I understand that there are some voices urging that the island Billy Bishop Airport be closed altogether. I do not support that position. I appreciate the fine job that Porter Airlines does operating out of the island and the value that Porter and Billy Bishop Airport bring to our city. I wish the company every success. I do, however, admit to serious apprehensions about the recent expansion proposal for the airport. Fundamentally, Billy Bishop Airport is a modest commuter airport that has traditionally served a number of classes of users, each one relatively small in scale and compatible with one another (private planes, flight training, small aircraft of various descriptions, etc.). The proposal recently advanced for consideration stands to transform the character of the airport to that of an international traveller’s alternative to Toronto Pearson airport, effectively converting Billy Bishop Airport into one of the country’s busiest air travel hubs. This gives rise to a number of concerns, including:
  • Road traffic flows in the vicinity of the airport if traveller throughput picks up dramatically;
  • The possible impact of Porter’s growth, squeezing other users out of Billy Bishop airport;
  • The effect that the proposed larger aircraft might have on Waterfront Toronto’s plans to develop the port lands at the east end of the harbour with residential use in mind. (This is a vital question of large scale and long lasting proportions;)
  • The impact on the airport’s traditional uses, which have a decreasing number of options available to them.
  • The effect on harbour activity as a result of the proposed longer runways and more intrusive flight paths.
  • The ripple effects of opening up an existing agreement that is serving the purpose for which it was intended, including the case for “me too” treatment that can be expected to come from other airlines besides Porter (this is a very significant concern and one that, in my view, has not been satisfactorily considered);
  • And of course the issue of noise, fuel management, and other impacts in the air and on the ground from a form and size of aircraft that is beyond the scale of the island’s traditional level of activity.
The apprehensions noted above – and others – appear to be shared by City of Toronto staff, even after the hard work they have recently carried out studying the proposal. A similar message has emerged from the board of Waterfront Toronto. I am left with the conclusion that the demand for a final answer on the matter of the expansion proposal is premature. Accordingly, I find myself unable to support a reopening of the existing arrangement at this time. To be candid, at present I do not see a scenario taking shape that is likely to alter my perspective on the matter. Source: John Parker's website, published 2014-02-04