Mimico Lakeshore Network Says No to Island Airport Expansion

Umbrella Group for Mimico Community Organization Writes Open Letter to City Council


TORONTO - We are writing on behalf of the Mimico Lakeshore Network, an umbrella group that brings together eleven different community associations who share concerns about developments in the city that have an impact on Mimico.

It is the view of the Mimico Lakeshore Network that there is no need for City Council to defer a decision on amending the Tripartite Agreement with Transport Canada and the Toronto Port Authority concerning Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, because it is already evident that there are sufficient reasons for rejecting their requests for amendments to the agreement.

The City’s Official Plan, as cited in the December 2013 report from the Board of Health, contains a vision of the central waterfront as “a densely populated, vibrant area that celebrates and provides connection to the lakefront”. To this end, industrial structures and installations have one by one been removed to make way for residential, commercial, cultural and recreational buildings and facilities.

Under the Tripartite Agreement, Billy Bishop Airport is permitted to continue operating in its present form until 2033. It is most important for the City to retain the ability to review the future of Billy Bishop Airport in about fifteen years’ time. But the amendments that would be needed in order to allow jet aircraft to use Billy Bishop Airport go hand in hand with a request from the Toronto Port Authority to extend the agreement beyond 2033. Presumably – and understandably – the operation of jet aircraft might not be profitable if it had to be suspended after 2033.

The adverse health impact of the current airport operation led the Board of Health to recommend rejection of the proposed expansion of Billy Bishop Airport. The Board of Health concluded, in its report of December 9, 2013, that “optimal 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”.

Finally, we would point out that the arguments advanced so far in support of the expansion of operations at Billy Bishop Airport fail to demonstrate that a downtown airport, in particular an expanded version of Billy Bishop, is needed for the benefit of the city’s economy in the long run. By 2015 there will be a rapid rail service linking Pearson airport with Union Station. This will provide quick and convenient access to central Toronto for tourists and business travellers arriving by air, and a quick and convenient getaway for Toronto residents leaving for business or vacation trips.

Those who have been pressing for an expansion of Billy Bishop and the introduction of jet aircraft have stressed the economic advantages the city has gained in the past, and continues to reap at the present time, from the fact that travellers can come and go through a small “boutique” airport located close to the downtown core. But in planning for the future, the important question to ask is: how much of this valuable business will be lost if instead of landing beside the waterfront, the planes are obliged to land at Pearson airport instead, and the travellers then speed downtown on the rapid rail link? This question needs to be addressed before any final decision is made about the future of Billy Bishop Airport.

For the Mimico Lakeshore Network,

Martin E. Gerwin gerwin@rogers.com Judith A. Rutledge jarutledge@rogers.com

Co-chairs, MLN Steering Committee 20 Miles Road Etobicoke, ON M8V 1V3 (416) 503-3736