National Post: Toronto Port Authority Decries Critics’ ‘Doomsday’ Concerns about Porter’s Plan

National Post Reports About TPA Chair's Speech, Features NoJetsTO's Comments October 21, 2013 TORONTO - The chairman of the Toronto Port Authority took aim Monday at the “fairy-tale” scenarios painted by opponents of Porter Airlines’ request to extend a runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and allow commercial jets to fly in and out. Mark McQueen sought to separate “reality from the myths” with a lunchtime speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, in which he reiterated the port authority will not take a position on the contentious proposal until, and if, it is approved by city council. He said the TPA would be open to any aircraft that meets noise standards set out in a tripartite agreement governing airport use. Porter president Robert Deluce had originally sought an exemption for the Bombardier CS100 planes, but modified that stance on Monday, saying he also supports lifting the jet ban completely at the island airport, as long as noise regulations are still met. Mr. Deluce announced this spring a $2.29-billion plan to purchase up to 30 of the so-called “whisper jets” to fly to more far-flung destinations, such as Calgary and California. “There may well be many valid arguments against the Porter proposal, but this issue shouldn’t turn on fairy-tale suggestions that home prices will collapse, that the TPA wants to ruin Lake Ontario, that the harbour will be closed to sailboats or commercial shipping, or that better utilization of Billy Bishop’s existing 202 commercial slots is going to ruin the way of life of the people who knowingly bought a condo near the airport,” Mr. McQueen said. “You heard that 10 years ago, and doomsday never came.” Mr. McQueen said the port authority supports the current noise restrictions, will not change an overnight ban on flights, and dismissed “rumoured desires” of WestJet to bring their planes to Billy Bishop as “wishful thinking,” at best. He argued that the question for the city is not whether it wants to extend the runway, but by how much, since Transport Canada is expected to require all major Canadian airports to extend “runway end safety areas” by at least 50 metres. If approved by city council, Mr. McQueen said the TPA would take a “do no harm” approach to evaluating the proposal from its end: it cannot have any negative impact on air and water quality, it cannot make the surrounding area any less “liveable” or impede sailors, and it must make business sense for the TPA, since it would pay for the runway extension by charging its passengers. Afterwards, Anshul Kapoor, chair of No Jets TO, maintained the proposal does not make sense, and will harm Toronto’s waterfront. He accused Mr. McQueen of “hiding behind a veil” of not supporting Porter plans, all the while taking stabs at the opposition. “That to me sounds like they are supporting Porter plans but they’re not coming out and saying it,” said Mr. Kapoor. Mr. Deluce didn’t see it that way, saying instead he was “encouraged” by the port authority’s willingness to review the proposal. He believes city officials will have all the information required to make a decision by the end of 2013, although noise certification by Transport Canada will not be complete until next year. Mr. Deluce said that the purchase agreement with Bombardier “guarantees” it will supply a plane that meets the restrictions of the tripartite agreement. Source: National Post article