Conquer by Confusion - The Battle of Jets at Billy Bishop Airport

Internet News Site Picks Up Property Value Statements by NoJetsTO, Pro-Jets Folks in Editorial October 25, 2013 Flickr_Photo_Jet_Engine_Rear_View_2013-09-10Wikimedia_Photo_Embraer_195_2013-11-02TORONTO - For those who have not heard about Porter Airlines desire to fly jets out of Billy Bishop Airport on the Toronto Island (if you live in Toronto and haven’t heard you almost have to be living off the grid) it may not surprise you that the battle is heating up. But what is the fight about, does anyone really know? Billy Bishop Airport is living in the world of He Said, She Said lately. If you ask those in support of jets landing at the small island airport you will hear a dollars and cents agenda. If you ask opponents like NoJetsTO you will hear about the environment and traffic. So let’s break it down to get somewhere in the middle and figure out what all the fuss is about. In a nutshell Porter Airlines wants to fly jets and to do so they have to expand the runways. Expanding the runway requires going into Lake Ontario about the length of two football fields on both sides of the existing runway. Doing so may have an impact on a bird sancuary on Toronto Island and cut into shipping lanes in Lake Ontario just for starters. There is also the little detail of it’s against the 1983 Tripartite Agreement which states no jets are to fly out of the airport. This week Porter Airlines put out a new press release saying that their plans will boost propety values according to real estate mogul Brad J. Lamb. “I can tell you without any doubt in my mind that, if anything, the airport has added value to the waterfront and I believe that adding jet service will continue to do so,” said Lamb, president and CEO of Brad J. Lamb Realty Inc. and Lamb Development Corp. “Waterfront real estate prices have gone up since Porter arrived. The Pier 27 project is one example that commands Yorkville-type pricing for a front row seat on the lake.” Porter further stated that Urbanation Inc. agreed with this in a 2006 report that Porter commissioned. It should be noted this report was prior to the request to have jets. On Lamb’s own blog he wrote up the airline saying that in the past he had lived at TipTop lofts, a condo building close to the airport. He likes the in-flight service of Porter that includes snacks and drinks and the roomy seats. He also had no issues with noise from the planes while he lived at TipTop. Lamb is right on a lot of points. Porter Airlines is a downtown favorite. They provide good service and are convenient. They are also not jets. Many who are opposed to jets flying from Billy Bishop Airport like Porter as it is now. This is nice to know for the many recent condo buyers along Lake Ontario. The majority of those owners though do not live in their properties, renting them out as an investment. Those owners do not have to deal with increased traffic or worry about additional air pollution. Jet fuel travelling by their front doors isn’t a danger they have to fear. While property values is a concern for those opposing the jets it is a minor one. Porter knows that but they have wheelers and dealers whose job is to give the public the good and fine print the ugly. Those dealers  know that confusing the public about the issues is their best shot at Toronto City Council-who will be the ones who decide if jets will fly. The issues for the opposition, with NoJetsTO the most vocal of the opposion, however are much more concerned about other factors than property value dollars. The top issues in order of importance to the group deal with health, safety, the environment of Lake Ontario and lastly with wasting billions of taxpayer dollars. Residents of Toronto against jets say that the city’s waterfront is at risk and that is a price simply to high to take a chance on. As for the claims that property values will increase NoJetsTO counters with “Academic research is crystal-clear that property values suffer from jet operations,” NoJetsTO chair Anshul Kapoor said. “Deluce is desperate to sell his failing jet plans – now he’s wheeling in his buddy Brad J. Lamb.” There is already an increase of traffic going to the airport, an issue prior to the request for jets. Porter and the Toronto Port Authority have fought with residents over this for years. The roadway going into the airport shares a crosswalk for the local community centre and three schools. One of the current ‘solutions’ to the traffic risks from the Port Authority and Porter is to tear down the school and community centre. Currently fuel trucks are ferried across the lake four times a day along with passengers. If jets are allowed these trucks will increase with much more flammable fuel and so will the risks of an accident. A jet fuel explosion could easily wipe out the surrounding residential neighbourhood if it happened before entering the ferry to the island. On the island itself an explosion could wipe out wildlife for years to come. Earlier this year fuel workers at Porter went on strike in part over safety concerns at the airport including fuel leaks. Fuel leaking into Lake Ontario, the main water source of Toronto residents worries many. It took Porter months to settle the battle and the workers return to the job. At the end of the day it boils down to money vs. the environment and the safety of residents. Opponents like NoJetsTO are banking that for once big money doesn’t get the prize. Source: editorial