The Grid Publishes In-Depth Article on Porter and Waterfront Jet Plans TORONTO - The first few times I flew Porter Airlines, I arrived at the Toronto Island airport deliberately, almost absurdly, early. Not to make sure I caught my flight, but just so I could hang out at the terminal. It was unlike almost every airport I’d been to, the waiting area akin to the private lounges restricted to business-class passengers. But at the island, it was open to everybody. There were free newspapers, free shortbread cookies, free espresso served in warm china cups. The lighting was pleasant, the armchairs even more so. It was cozier than my apartment. And once you got on your plane, the pampering continued. The flight attendants were uncommonly friendly, the in-flight magazine slick, the beer and wine free, and served in real glasses. The flights were a bit cheaper, too, and suddenly, not having been to New York in a few years, I was flying there every four or five months. (Full disclosure: I also now write for that slick in-flight magazine.) I was not alone. Porter opened its doors in 2006, and within months, it had transformed air travel in Toronto. In an industry hardly known these days for its cuddly customer service, Porter harkened back to an old school, more civilized, experience. If other airlines were like boyfriends who were chronically late and forgot your birthday, Porter was the swain who fed you bonbons and painted your toenails while you lay on the couch watching Downton Abbey. It promised, and delivered, “flying refined.” Beginning with turboprop flights to Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax, the company quickly increased its service to 19 North American cities. The proximity of the airport to the financial district and an ever-growing condo community along the water made it even more attractive. Porter had 300,000 passengers in its first year, and towards the end of 2013, 10 million people had flown on its planes. Last November, a Condé Nast Traveler reader’s survey chose Porter as its top small airline in the world (WestJet came in fifth). Crucially, the strength of the brand managed to dispel, even transcend, the controversy, scandal, and anger that surrounded the airline’s very creation. But now that Porter has proposed an expansion of the island airport, that loyalty is being tested. The proposal to enlarge the airport to allow larger jets to service more far-flung destinations has sharply divided Toronto—witness the anti- and pro-signs on front porches and yards all the way from the waterfront to North York—and the plan now awaits its fate at City Hall, with the scheduling of a vote on the matter to be determined soon. The main concerns about expansion—greater pollution and noise, a massive disruption of other waterfront activities, potential safety issues—are complicated and legitimate. But Porter may end up losing this battle for an entirely different reason: Its growth could end up diminishing the intimacy and convenience that made people fans in the first place. If its current level of service turns out not be scalable, no amount of free cookies will quell its diehard customers’ wrath. Long a thorn in the side of island residents, city council, and proponents of waterfront revitalization, the island airport opened in 1939, on land that was home to, among other things, a baseball stadium and numerous residential cottages (all were razed). It was used for military purposes during World War II, and then for recreational and limited commuter and regional flights in the decades following. But demand waned and its provincial and federal subsidies were cut. Neither Air Canada, nor Porter precursor Canada 3000 were able to successfully exploit the airport’s potential, and it looked like it might be shuttered. It became even more of a flashpoint when its operation was taken over in 1999 by the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), a federally appointed agency despised for its secrecy, fiscal mismanagement, and disdain for municipal government (to which it’s not accountable). One example: For nearly a decade after its formation, the TPA refused to pay the standard municipal service fees. The agency and the city fought bitterly over the issue. The dispute was finally settled this month, something observers suggest only happened because of Porter’s expansion proposal. But Robert Deluce, Porter’s founder and CEO, had deep ties to the airport. He learned to fly there when he was 16, and his late father’s now-defunct airline, Air Ontario, ran flights out of there in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The TPA is legally required to be financially self-sufficient, and Porter promised to turn the sleepy, cash-strapped island airport, renamed Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in 2009, into a money-making machine. And, indeed, in 2012, the TPA reported a record profit of $19.7 million. Deluce initially said that his airline would only get off the ground if the city built a bridge to the airport. While in office, Mayor Mel Lastman approved the project. David Miller became the next mayor in part because of his opposition to the bridge: Upon election in 2003, he cancelled its construction. Deluce threatened to sue for $500 million, but the TPA ended up doing the dirty work. The agency and the city settled out of court for $35 million, $20 million of which went to Deluce’s company. In 2005, the port authority announced that it had purchased a new ferry boat and was making improvements to the airport terminal. The next year, a federal inquiry into the TPA’s operation revealed that in order to obtain investment capital, Deluce had negotiated a special clause in a port authority agreement that allowed him to sue the feds again if they closed the airport. In 2012, the TPA broke ground on a new pedestrian tunnel to the airport. While Deluce managed, for the most part, to float above the fray, it seemed the resulting political dustups and public outrage would forever tarnish his company’s reputation. But the Porter experience quickly became the company’s best defence: Its charm offensive worked. While a Conference Board of Canada report last summer maintained that household spending on air travel had declined for the first time since the recession, Porter has, at least according to Deluce, posted profits for the past two years. (A private company, its financials are not made public.) In some ways, it’s an age-old retail story. Just as customers don’t usually dwell on (or care about) about Amazon’s annihilation of indie bookshops when they order a discounted copy ofThe Goldfinch, flyers were willing to turn a blind eye to Porter’s more Machiavellian side. For most consumers, most of the time, convenience trumps all. And when a product is packaged as smartly and attractively as Porter’s is, it’s even easier to forget the cost of that convenience. Or is it? In early 2013, Deluce started talking expansion again—and this time, his plans were even bolder. He wanted to take Torontonians further—to Vancouver, Vegas, and Havana—and he was going to bring bigger, louder jets downtown to do so. On the surface, the plan was absurd. It flew in the face, so to speak, of a longstanding agreement between the city, Transport Canada, and the TPA that heretofore prohibited jets in the downtown core. It would potentially increase the already terrible congestion around the airport, not to mention elevating noise and pollution levels. It might, some feared, spell the end of the islands as parkland, and the waterfront as welcoming public commons. And, as far as Porter was concerned, wouldn’t expansion ruin its boutique charm? When Deluce set out to create the Porter brand, he tapped Winkreative, the U.K.-based ad agency founded by Canadian ex-pat Tyler Brûlé. It was a shrewd, and revealing, hire, and instantly conferred upon Porter the kind of cool you would never associate with, say, Air Canada. Brûlé was the brains behind Wallpaper and Monocle magazines, a lifestyle guru well known around the world (if occasionally mocked) for his unerring design divination. Deluce loved the agency’s sleek, understated overhaul of Swissair’s corporate identity in 2001. With his input, Wink put together a complete, and consistently stylish, package for Porter. It conceptualized everything from the flight attendants’ retro pillbox hats to its print advertising, which often features a nattily attired raccoon named Mr. Porter. “Right from the beginning,” Deluce says, “we wanted to set ourselves apart from other airlines in terms of service levels and sophistication. What developed was a brand and style that has a certain distinctiveness but is also approachable.” Porter benefitted from a concurrent consumer appetite for the small, the authentic, the local. “We recognized we were a regional carrier,” Deluce says, “strongly identified with Toronto. Canadian in every way.” Accordingly, the planes were manufactured here (by Bombardier), the on-board beer brewed here (by Steamwhistle), and the flight-attendant uniforms designed here (by Pink Tartan). Even Mr. Porter seemed tailor-made for Toronto, famously North America’s raccoon capital. The local connections went even deeper. Porter’s appeal and success certainly lay with its singular service, but it was also bound up in how Toronto, or at least large parts of the old city, saw itself. “Porter has reinforced ideas of Toronto among a certain audience,” says Clive Veroni, a brand consultant and the author of the upcoming book Spin: How Politics Has the Power to Turn Marketing on Its Head. “Those who perceive themselves to be sophisticated, downtown urbanites. People who, when they travel, don’t want to go to just the touristy restaurants they read about in guidebooks.” Despite David Miller’s opposition to the airport’s earlier expansion, the Porter brand fit perfectly into the image of the city that was cultivated during his mayoralty. Toronto had become a global city, cultured, affluent, and cosmopolitan, pro-business and progressive. In a way, Porter made the world smaller, and us bigger. Suddenly, in theory anyway, Torontonians could be the kind of people who fly to New York to catch an Off-Broadway show, or hop to Tremblant for a ski weekend. It was, to indulge in a bit of marketing speak, an aspirational brand. While critics dismiss the airline as one that caters only to frequent-flying business elites or spendthrift hipsters—city councillor Adam Vaughan has called it a “boutique service”—it reached far beyond those perceived demographics. A few years into its existence, it began to fly to underserviced, less-glamorous routes like Windsor and Sudbury. And the kind of passenger it attracted changed, too. Chris Duggan is a 33-year-old teacher in Vaughan. He rarely travels, and when he does, it’s usually back to his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. When I call him to discuss his affection for Porter, in a weird coincidence, he’s already on the phone with one of the airline’s customer service reps. He’s trying to change a flight that he’s booked home, and when he calls me back, he reports that they’ve changed his flight with no additional charge. “They were awesome,” he says. After rhyming off some of his favourite qualities (the friendliness of staff, the price of airfares, the relative ease of the security process), he sums up his Porter experiences thusly: “I feel important when I’m there.” In April, 2013, Porter issued a press release saying that it had conditionally purchased 12 Bombardier CS100 aircraft, supposedly much quieter and cleaner than older jetliners, with delivery set for 2016. These new jets, the airline said, would permit Porter to fly all over North America and the Caribbean—“Destinations where people really want to go,” Deluce says now. There were two snags, however: One, the runways were too short to accommodate the larger aircraft, and worse, jets had been prohibited in the city as part of an agreement signed in 1983 between the TPA, Transport Canada, and the city. The TPA and the feds would have happily amended the agreement, but City Hall was a different story. A series of staff reports on the expansion proposal all urged caution, saying that the city still didn’t have enough information about noise, pollution, infrastructure, or economic cost. Proponents of an expanded airport, unlikely bedfellows like Mayor Rob Ford and urban studies bigwig Richard Florida, claim it would greatly enhance economic development and the city’s global reputation. “The island airport is among the best advertisements for Toronto,” Florida wrote in the Star. The airline’s list of supporters includes Paul Godfrey and former Maple Leaf Doug Gilmour, and on Porterplans.com the company says the expansion will create a thousand new jobs and, it implies, greatly increase the $2 billion in economic output the airport already provides. Opponents, like Margaret Atwood and David Miller,* argue the exact opposite—that, from an environmental, health, and planning perspective, the effect of expansion on the waterfront would be ruinous. Seventy-six per cent of passengers travel to the airport by car or taxi, they claim, and if numbers double, this will result in well over a million additional car trips within the city. André Sorensen, a University of Toronto geography professor and a supporter of NoJetsT.O., is dismissive of the intrinsic value of a downtown airport. “Yes, airports are huge economic assets and an essential piece of a major city,” says Sorensen. “But we have a great airport and it’s Pearson. And, based on current trends, Pearson has capacity for the next 25 years.” He compares Billy Bishop to the London City Airport, a development near Canary Wharf that he says has been disastrous for the area: Excessive jet noise levels have scuttled further development in surrounding neighbourhoods. Clive Veroni points out that support for a bigger Porter is “very broad, but shallow. They’re not going to City Hall in support of expansion. The opposition, on the other hand, is narrower but deeper.” A casual canvas of people who regularly fly the airline suggests a vague, on-the-fence, wait-and-see attitude towards the expansion. “I do worry that I’m going to lose a bit of service,” Chris Duggan says. Others are more optimistic. Lise Snelgrove, an entrepreneur who booked her first Porter flight two weeks after it opened its doors, argues that the airline continues to deliver the same great experience it did on that first flight. “I’m not worried the proposed expansion will diminish the Porter experience,” she tells me. “This high standard of service is ingrained in its culture.” But how important is scale to that culture? When I asked Deluce about how Porter was able to deliver such a compelling customer experience when other airlines could not, he said that it was because Porter was “small” and had “more control over its product.” If, as city reports suggest, the airline starts serving 4.4 million passengers—one possible growth scenario—will Porter be able to consistently deliver its intimate service? Expansion and ubiquity have the potential to dilute a brand, and usually do. The Feist you loved when she played with Broken Social Scene at Wavelength is not the same Feist whose CDs your parents now buy at Starbucks. And already, even at Porter’s current service levels, some of the bloom is off the rose: You have to pay to check your luggage now on many flights and on my last trip back from New York, they ran out of Steamwhistle—not a huge deal, but for an airline that strenuously prides itself on the details, it’s telling. Even worse, how much of a convenience will Billy Bishop continue to be with that many people squeezing into a space that, no matter how many infrastructural improvements are made, was never built for such density? Especially after the rail link from Union to Pearson is complete and you can get to Pearson just as quickly. And then there’s the matter of other, less beguiling, airlines taking advantage of an expanded downtown airport—both WestJet and Air Canada have purchased new jets they’d like to fly out of Billy Bishop, too. So, sure, Torontonians once fell in love with Deluce’s baby, but will they still have affection for it as an aggressive, bullying teenager? Source: The Grid article, published 2014-01-22
To: email@example.com December 5, 2013 Dear Mr Gee, I am a Globe and Mail subscriber since 2005 and have always been loyal to it, thanks to what I consider as being the high quality of its news and editorials, as compared to the more populist or "flimsy" Toronto newspapers. I am writing to you because, as a Toronto waterfront resident, I have read with interest (and with much disappointment) your recent article on the Toronto Island Airport "Anti-jet forces cling to flimsy arguments". Just by looking at its title, I already knew that I was going to read an editorial that would be completely biased and subjective. But I was thinking that this may not be journalism, just an editorial that was not supposed to bring any news on the subject, except exposing a personal opinion from a journalist who has already made up his mind about a subject, without having explored all the many aspects that could be related to such an important topic, the introduction of more commercial planes and new jets to Billy Bishop Airport. So I read the whole article, twice, to see if I could find in it something that could make me feel that I was still reading the most intellectually respected newspaper in Toronto. But I ended up very disappointed by the tone, the lack of objectivity and the quite superficial analysis that was made about such a sensitive subject. You appear to think throughout your editorial that the fight between Porter Airlines and the "Anti-jets Forces" were just limited to some minor arguments focusing mainly on the "noise limit", "the two 200m extension of the runway". So now that these arguments have lost a big chunk of its justifications, the opponents to the airport extension have been inventing some new arguments to sustain their fight, mainly by invoking potential traffic problems near the airport. Such superficial analysis, based on a quite limited knowledge and understanding of the real situation (or is it voluntary ignorance ?) is just astonishing coming from a Globe and Mail reporter. I would assume that, as a good reporter, you could have tried to at least make a more extensive research into the many different aspects of the problem, economical and social, that has been created by the airport expansion project, in order to report to the public the various implications that such project could have on the City, on the Torontonians' life and mostly on the life of the residents living on the waterfront, who have to suffer much more than just the nuisance of the jet engines, but most of all the much higher level of air pollution produced by the existing planes and the future jets. Have you ever been wandering to the downtown lakefront to enjoy a sunny day by the waterfront and listen to the music in the various open air theatres, from Harbourfront to the Music garden? Can you imagine yourself enjoying that music while airplanes or jest are scrambling next to you ? and instead of enjoying the scent of thousands of flowers, having to inhale the heavy smell of jet fuel? The Harbourftont and the Center Island are popular places where many Torontonians like to spend their week-ends and holidays with their families and friends, with endless possibilities for entertainment. Does that mean anything to you, even though you may possibly be living far from such places? And have you ever wandered towards Lower Bathurst street, where the airport starts its operations? looking at the long lines of taxis and cars that have nowhere to park, with their engines idling continuously, adding to the already polluted air coming from the airplanes' engines? watching the traffic jams that are already existing today along the Queens Quay and Lakeshore Boulevard, before the jets even arrive to town? Have you been digging into the ludicrous investment expenses that are related to the Billy Bishop airport since it restarted its operations 3 years ago ? the purchase of the first million-dollar ferry, relegated to the side after only one year, replaced by another larger million-dollar ferry, which usefulness will soon be reduced by the opening of the multi-million dollar pedestrian tunnel? And so on? Aren't these more interesting news than just a subjective analysis of some feuding argumentations between pro and opponents of the "whisper jets"? If you take a good look at all the human related aspects of the problem, and not just the business and economical aspects of it, you may find a much wider and more interesting ground to write your editorials about this subject. Because at the end of the day, it is not only the matter of "introducing whisper jets" to the airport to save Mr Robert de Luce from a potential bankruptcy in a hopeless business, it's also and most particularly about the many implications that such a project would cause: political, economical, financial, health-related concerns for residents, etc..., the many contradictions of this project against another not less important project that is the Waterfront Revitalization, or against the Metrolinx "Union Pearson Express" that would soon makes the trip to Pearson International Airport a traffic-jam free journey of 20 minutes, giving direct access to travelers to many transfer destinations nationally and internationally. I have no shame in trying to defend a just cause, that has been so far ignored or subjected to a total indifference from people in power who only defends business and money, but voluntarily discard residents' objections or feelings, although they are the main people that the City and local authorities should take care of first, as voters, taxpayers and Toronto residents. So I am not ashamed in sharing with you personally my recent exchange of e-mails with some City Hall councilors, as you may find in the following extracts some arguments that may have been ignored by everyone, but that have as much weight and importance as the arguments that are opposed by Porter Airlines in its fight. I totally understand that as a printed newspaper, the Globe and Mail is highly indebted to Porter and Mr de Luce for the tons of daily full-page advertisements that have been posted in the paper for the last 6 months or more. This puts the newspaper in a delicate situation that prevents it from doing its job properly and objectively. But I believe that such a burden should not prevent its journalists from remaining professional and objective, and from making due diligence in their analysis of any important news topic. I hope that you will take my present letter less as a critical argumentation and more as a honest contribution to your work. Yours truthfully, Hoan Nguyen Quang ================= From: firstname.lastname@example.org Dec 6 at 4:05 PM You lost me with the suggestion that the Globe has been bought by Porter, I’m afraid. We should be able to disagree without that kind of jab. ================= To: email@example.com Dec 6 at 5:41 PM I was sincere when I meant that I fully understand that the Globe has been put in a very delicate situation because of the huge amount of advertising money that Porter has spent during the last period of 6 months or so, and it prevents the newspaper from being able to report freely more articles about the reality behind the airport expansion and Porter's wish to introduce "whisper jets". Believe me, I am still a loyal reader of the Globe, and I am sure that Porter has done the same thing with all the other papers, in order to prevent them from talking too much about that, or letting their reporters digging too deeply into that matter that encompasses much more than the limited problems of noise or runway extension. It's a very smart tactics, that also costs a lot of money to Porter (who is not really in such a good financial condition, but how would you know the truth since they decided last year to stop reporting anything about their business ?), and as a former investment banker, I can assure you that it truly smells a dangerous financial path. Hoan Nguyen Quang Globe & Mail article: Critics of Porter’s plan for jets at Toronto island airport are way off course MARCUS GEE The Globe and Mail Published Thursday, Dec. 05 2013, 5:00 AM EST BNN article: Porter filling fewer seats: Comparing Canada’s major airlines Clea Simos, BNN Chase Producer BNN 7:56 PM, E.T. | April 10, 2013 Toronto Board of Health: Health Impacts Associated with Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Expansion Board Recommendations - December 9, 2013
Porter Airlines may be a city asset, but one that pales in comparison to the waterfront December 04, 2013 When the board of Waterfront Toronto endorsed a city report that recommends against approving the expansion of Billy Bishop Airport until 2015, it introduced a note of sanity into the madness now unfolding at the foot of Bathurst St. Though Porter Airlines founder Robert Deluce would have us believe that his delusions of jet-fuelled grandeur are compatible with waterfront revitalization, they are anything but. Indeed, his arguments, which are full of half-truths and unquestioned assumptions, are transparently self-serving and wholly inconsistent with the interests of Toronto. Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly may support expansion, but he will live to regret that. In truth, Deluce’s intentions would spell disaster, not just for the waterfront, but the larger city. To begin with, allowing jets to operate at the Island Airport would be incredibly dangerous; there simply isn’t enough space for jets to take off and land safely and besides, there’s a bird sanctuary just east. Anyone who remembers the Miracle on the Hudson in 2009 knows the impact a bird strike can have. Worse still, Billy Bishop, unlike other airports, doesn’t have a usable north/south runway. The main east/west landing strip works under most, but not all, conditions. Lengthening the north/south runway to accommodate headwinds would mean taking over parkland. Even if Deluce’s revamped airport meets minimal safety requirements, the margin of error is disturbingly small. Billy Bishop’s main runway is less than 4,000 feet (1,200 metres), maybe 5,200 after expansion. The CSeries jetliners need a minimum of 4,000 feet to take off and 4,400 to land. However, at their maximum weight, they need 4,800 to take off, and 4,400 to land. Interestingly, the jet’s manufacturer, Bombardier, operates a 7,000-foot runway at Downsview. And if a crash were to occur at Billy Bishop, could the airport respond quickly and effectively? But for Kelly, blithely unconcerned about safety, the issue is economic; he sees the Island Airport as a financial asset whose value we have yet to fully exploit. Deluce likes to say that the economic impact of his airline is $1.5 billion annually. That number, highly suspect, pales in comparison to many billions a revitalized waterfront will add to the city. In other words, Kelly’s argument is a good reason for not expanding Billy Bishop. But Deluce has never relied on rational thought to make his case. While the Waterfront Toronto board was meeting Monday afternoon, he was busy lobbying the deputy mayor in his city hall office. “How did we get in this position?” asked former Toronto chief planner and WT director Gary Wright at the same meeting. “Some things just intuitively don’t make sense. Are there better things to spend scarce public money on than Billy Bishop?” Another WT director, former city councillor Joe Pantalone, said approving Deluce’s request would be like “jumping off a cliff.” Such a decision, he insisted, “would be foolhardy.” Ross McGregor, also a director, was “tempted to reject outright the proposed expansion.” But the loudest applause went to board member and Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy. “I’d like to hear from the children,” he said in reference to pupils at The Waterfront School, located a stone’s throw from the airport. “They should be part of this.” Already those kids are breathing some of the most polluted air in the city and dodging traffic to get to and from classes. Some Deluce supporters have even suggested the school be torn down to make way for airport parking. If ever there was a case of putting planes before people, this is it. To accede to Deluce and his monomaniacal demands would cost the city billions. It’s simply not worth the price. Christopher Hume can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Source: Toronto Star article, 2013-12-04
Veteran Journalist John Barber Takes a Closer Look at Porter's Motives for Waterfront Jet Plans November 30, 2013 TORONTO - Now that Rob Ford has been forced to admit what he can no longer deny, the biggest lie in Toronto comes from the friendly folk at Porter Airlines. “Sale Ends Tomorrow!” my email proclaims at regular intervals. But it never does. The end of one seat sale at Porter is inevitably the beginning of another. The sale never ends. Could there still be any air-travelling Torontonians who rush to Porter’s wickets today out of fear prices might risetomorrow? As the boy who cried wolf discovered, returns on such claims diminish rapidly. Somebody should tell the marketers. Porter could get a lot more attention if it declared “Airline Ends Tomorrow”—and that would be closer to the truth. Despite the company’s considerable success at revitalizing a previously moribund island airport, raising passenger volumes from basically nothing to more than two million a year, the evidence of crisis is increasingly clear. It would likely be clear as glass if the privately held company ever again opened its books, as it did three years ago in a quickly aborted attempt to sell shares to the public. Bay Street took one look at the numbers and said, in so many words, “Are you joking?” That was the end of Porter’s experiment in financial transparency. Porter founder and president Robert Deluce has since claimed his company is profitable, but he said the same thing before the attempted IPO, which revealed nothing but losses. The company’s urgent campaign to introduce currently banned jets at the little airport is a better indication of the truth. When launching the airline, Deluce was emphatic that Porter could happily operate within the strict constraints governing use of the island airport. Jets were not only unnecessary for success, he claimed at the time, they were unwanted; they were noisy and wasteful. Porter’s business plan was based squarely on the claimed advantages of Bombardier’s Toronto-made Q400 propeller planes. Most people would say he made it work, defying the naysayers (me included) with a tremendously popular service. Everybody but Robert Deluce, it would seem, who is now desperately trying to save himself from what looks awfully like a turboprop trap. It turns out that Porter can’t live without jets after all, and—just as the naysayers said—can’t succeed without major relief from constraints designed to limit the disruption jets cause. There was more than a hint of desperation in Porter’s campaign as it unfolded this year, accompanied by masses of misleading propaganda, high-torque polling, lobbying, and petitioning. The company even took out radio ads urging its customers to intervene with local politicians. The urgency was all out of proportion to the logistical difficulty of the proposed changes, let alone their potential impact on the city. It was hardly the sort of thing you would expect from a successful business contemplating an orderly expansion. City staff’s latest report, which urges a properly deliberate evaluation of the jet proposal, reveals just how far Porter overreached. To take the most notorious example, Deluce repeatedly claimed Bombardier’s CS100 was “the quietest jet in production” months before the new plane’s first flight, and who knows how long before the still-unknown date when it will actually enter production. But as the aviation experts consulted by the City reported this month, nobody knows how noisy it will be. The data will not be available till May 2014 at the earliest, City staff say. But Porter is either unwilling or unable to wait even that long. In the face of a strong recommendation for caution from professional advisers, Deluce is urging council to take a flier on the most consequential city planning decision of the new century. The urgency seems even stranger in view of the consultant’s advice that the new plane probably will prove quiet enough to operate from the island airport once it is tested. As with every issue it identifies—noise being only one—the City report points a way forward. Although properly cautious, it is basically positive, full of compliments for the airport and its newfound vitality. But Porter has no patience for the long game. This is not TransCanada Corp., patiently fulfilling every regulatory and political requirement in its globally controversial quest to drain the tar sands south. This is aviation, the business that investment guru Warren Buffett recently described as “a death trap for investors,” one that “has eaten up capital over the past century like almost no other business.” An astute capitalist visiting Kitty Hawk in 1903 would have done the world a favour by shooting Orville Wright out of the sky, according to the Oracle of Omaha. But no such hero then existed, with the result that predicting the demise of yet another start-up airline a century later is as safe as forecasting snow in December. Several have met their end at the island airport over the decades. Unfortunately for those of us who believe the central waterfront is no place for any airport of any kind, the demise of one more carrier is unlikely to change much. The planes might get a new livery, the ads a new mascot, but the airport will remain. The reason aviation has been able to destroy so much capital, Buffett pointed out, is “because people seem to keep coming back to it and putting fresh money in.” Experience has more or less proven that aviation on the island is unsustainable under current regulations, as set out on the municipally fabled Tripartite Agreement of 1983 [PDF]. The latest evidence is Porter’s abrupt about-face on jets, which went from unnecessary yesterday to do-or-die today. But the airport will remain alive as long as the chance remains for some future buccaneer to catch the city in one of its regular Lastman/Ford-type stupors and blow the rules wide open. The sky will be no limit then, and every resident, amenity, and green space on the waterfront will suffer. In the meantime, there is a killer sale on seats in an empty plane to Thunder Bay. Get ‘em while you can. John Barber is a former newspaper columnist and sixth-generation Torontonian. _______ Source: Torontoist article, 2013-11-29
Toronto Waterfront Revitalization in Peril by Jet Plans: Toronto Star Columnist November 28, 2013 TORONTO - It didn’t take long for Toronto’s newly empowered deputy mayor, Norm Kelly, to make his first misstep — and it’s a huge one. Responding to a rare display of sanity from city hall, Kelly rejected a staff report that suggested it would be “premature” for council to decide whether to allow Porter Airlines to fly jets out of the island airport. Despite the lack of information, he wants the vote held as soon as possible. “I don’t care,” said Kelly, putting his ignorance on full display Thursday morning. “It could be planes propelled by rubber bands, as long as it’s quiet.” With these few words, the poor man confirmed every doubt Torontonians may have had about his sudden rise to power. Not only has Kelly swallowed the Porter Kool-Aid as served up by its founder Robert Deluce, he revealed a disturbing ignorance of what has unfolded on the waterfront over the last decade. Expanding Billy Bishop flies quite literally in the face of the renewal that has occurred along the shores of Lake Ontario since 2001 when the federal, provincial and civic governments pledged $1.5 billion to remake Toronto’s long neglected water’s edge. The question is simple: Why should Deluce be allowed to jeopardize the billions of dollars — public and private — invested in waterfront revitalization over the last decade? That’s why the city report is good news to anyone who cares about Toronto, and who believes there’s a better use for precious waterfront real estate than handing it over to a grasping entrepreneur who puts his own interests above those of the city. Even Porter’s fiercest critics acknowledge his right to run turboprops from the island, but he wants more. Though jets would mean lengthening the main runway by up to 200 metres at both ends as well as an enlarged fuel tank farm, even more taxis, worse pollution, major infrastructure changes paid for with public money, these are not things Deluce or Kelly want us to worry about. For them, it’s enough that Porter’s jets are quiet. But even that they cannot guarantee because the planes have yet to be properly tested. As the city report makes clear, however, “the key question is not the type of aircraft technology proposed, but the number of passengers, flights and required infrastructure.” As it goes on to say, the airport “has experienced significant growth following the launch of Porter Airlines in 2006, with annual passenger volumes rising from 26,000 in 2006 to 2.3 million in 2012.” That could increase to 4 million if Deluce and Kelly prevail. Keep in mind that 80 per cent of passengers arrive and depart by cab. For the waterfront, the impact, already damaging, would be disastrous. Perhaps that’s what Kelly had in mind when he devoted one of his first meetings after his ascension to — you guessed it — Bob Deluce. One wonders whether His Deputy Worship also took time to read the report prepared by Urban Strategies and presented to the city Nov. 25: “Other airport sites,” it stated bluntly, “are better suited to meet growing regional air transport demands given their potential to expand and incorporate complementary employment land uses….” Furthermore, it continued, “(Billy Bishop’s) location also runs contrary to provincial policy preferences for airports because of the proximity of homes and other sensitive uses….” The issue is one of scale and balance. The airport has long since reached the point where, regardless of airplane technology, it is too big for its location. Deluce is lucky to have gotten this far; it’s time the city tells him to cool his jets. Christopher Hume can be reached email@example.com _____________ Source: Toronto Star article, 2013-11-28
Deputy Mayor Kelly Wants to Throw Caution to the Wind, While Staff Outlines Major Issues with Jet Plans November 28, 2013 TORONTO - Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly says council shouldn’t hesitate to move forward with expanding the Toronto Island airport, despite a staff report that recommends delaying the decision until 2015. He said if council doesn’t act now, it risks postponing the expansion for at least a decade, pending the results of next year’s municipal election. “It depends on the makeup of the next administration,” he said. “It may be the very same people that opposed the island airport in the first place. If that’s the case, then I think the city will have lost a marvellous opportunity to grow an asset.” Porter Airlines has been pushing the city to expand the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport by lengthening the runway and allowing jets to land there. It needs the support of council to move forward, but council’s executive committee, which will meet next Thursday, has received a staff report that recommends holding off on a decision until May, 2015. “Despite the breadth of consultant studies, there remain outstanding questions,” the report says, pointing to questions about road traffic and a lack of certification from Transport Canada for the jets that Porter says would conform to the airport’s noise restrictions. Six months ago, city council handed staff the task of determining whether it would be possible to renegotiate the tripartite agreement to allow for the expansion. The deal among the city, the federal government and the Toronto Port Authority dictates the function of the airport. Staff brought in outside consultants to study the impacts on health, the environment, the economy and city infrastructure but were ultimately left with even more questions. “We have not had enough analysis and enough attention to the issues that have been raised and how they might be mitigated,” John Livey, deputy city manager, said. “If you strip it all away, really the question remains: how big is this airport going to be?” Mr. Livey said one of the biggest missing pieces of information is a long-term, over-arching plan for the airport from the Port Authority, as well as how to address problems that already exist, like heavy traffic and the effect on a nearby school. However, the Toronto Port Authority has put out a statement saying it needs council to get behind the proposal before spending more time and money on studies. “Council needs to decide if the proposal merits approval, before it spends any further TPA funds on all of the necessary elements that would be required regarding the implementation of the concept,” said TPA chairman Mark McQueen in the release. “What you do is you put all that in your consent. Go ahead as long as you can meet these conditions. So why spend a year or two debating over the data when you can put that into the deal?” Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, another executive committee member, said he is a big supporter of Porter, but council needs to make sure they’re doing their due diligence before rushing ahead. “We need to proceed cautiously. Some of the issues are not small,” he said. “Notwithstanding the electoral calendar, council has to focus on doing the right thing.” Porter’s chief executive officer Robert Deluce said the report hasn’t shaken the company’s optimism that council will keep pushing forward with the proposal. He said there is enough information on the proposal and on the Bombardier planes for council to make a decision. “Certain councillors didn’t even want to study the issue in the first place, so there’s no amount of additional time or information that will ever satisfy them.” But the issue is bigger than Porter, Mr. Livey said. Other airlines, including Air Canada and WestJet, have expressed an interest in the airport’s expansion. “Opening up the tripartite agreement allows other things to happen,” he said. That’s what has some councillors and Torontonians so concerned. “We don’t even know what the future scale of that airport is going to be one day,” said Tim Ehlich, a representative for No Jets TO, a citizen group opposed to the expansion. “Obviously we need to step on the brakes.” ______________ Source: The Globe and Mail article, 2013-11-28
NoJetsTO Endorsers Dr. Carlo Fanelli Writes in the Canadian Dimension Magazine November 27, 2013 TORONTO - Saying no to the expansion of the Toronto Island Airport and introduction of jet aircrafts is the economical, ecological and socially responsible thing to do. At present, Pearson Airport can accommodate some 33 million passengers per year with room for an additional capacity of 7 million. That would still leave Pearson with a future capacity to accommodate twenty million more passengers, that’s room for 63 percent growth if need be. What’s more, the federal government recently announced that it plans to introduce a new 8,700 acre airport on prime farmland in the Pickering area, with Ontario already committed to expanding the 407 east (again over prime farmland). This might place Toronto and surrounding area dead centre within reach of airports in the west, south and east. As competition grows and markets become saturated the public expenditures put into a downtown airport could quickly turn into a significant drag on the local economy threatening new investments in public transportation, infrastructure, services expansion and so forth. Close to $2 billion in public funds has already gone into revitalizing Toronto’s much-maligned waterfront, creating tens of thousands of jobs and additional economic benefits. What’s more, the Toronto Port Authority is estimated to owe the city some $50 million related to ongoing disputes over payments in lieu of taxes. Even though some $30 million has passed directly from federal coffers to Porter Airlines, there are lingering concerns over Porter’s questionable labour and safety practices as raised by the Canadian Office and Professional Employees union that resulted in a five-month long strike.
Paving over Lake OntarioDoubling the capacity of Billy Bishop’s annual passengers from 2 million to 4 million would require paving over more than 400 meters of Lake Ontario in order to accommodate the Boeing 737-like CS-100 planes. Not only would paving over the lake threaten the water quality and health of sensitive ecosystems, but the excess run-off from de-icing, fuel and waste could put wide-ranging species of birds, aquatic and wildlife in serious jeopardy. From Blue Flag beaches to the Toronto Islands and sensitive hydrological lands on the nearby Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment, the introduction of jet aircrafts is a major threat to the region’s ecology. For decades the GTA has been locked into a low-density, automobile-dependent suburban growth dynamic. Expensive low-density infrastructure puts upward pressures on tax rates, raising residential and commercial costs and impeding the flow of goods and services. If left unchecked this could pose major problems related to urban sprawl over the next 30 years as more than 1,000 square kilometres of land would need to be developed to meet projected population influxes of more than 3 million. Taking climate change seriously means reducing, not increasing, fuel usage and the duplication of expensive infrastructure.
Ontario’s Auto DependencyBetween 1986 and 2001 the province has seen a 53 percent increase in the supply of new roads and 38 percent growth in new highways. But transit ridership over the last two decades in the form of annual passengers per capita declined in all regions across the Greater Golden Horseshoe with the exception of Peel. Ontario residents are amongst the most automobile dependent in the country. In 2006, 71 percent of workers in the Toronto census metropolitan area got to work by car, while only 22 percent used public transit. It has been estimated that congestion costs the Golden Horseshoe more than $6 billion annually as automobile-dependent urban sprawl increases air pollution, congestion along trade corridors and greenhouse gases resulting in Ontario having the highest ground-level ozone concentrations in the country.
Health Impacts of ExpansionA 2006 study by the City of Toronto found that five common air pollutants contribute to about 1,700 premature deaths and 6,000 hospital admissions in Toronto each year. Toronto’s former Medical Officer of Health Barbara Yaffe made clear that “these premature deaths and hospital admissions are preventable and likely would not have occurred when they did without the exposure to air pollution.” Jet aircrafts contain exorbitant amounts of black carbon, ultrafine particles and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which would increase the chronic health effects associated with ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide raising the likelihood of asthma attacks, cancers, high blood pressure, lung and heart disease, and reduce overall life expectancy. What’s more, expansion of the Toronto Island airport would add more than 1 million extra vehicles, increasing gridlock, GHG emissions and placing additional stresses on crumbling infrastructure. With the Union-Pearson railway link set to open in 2015, this would put Toronto’s airport train travel time ahead of places like New York, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing and San Francisco. Leaving aside the entire lease history in which this area was supposed to be zoned as a public trust, regrettably the City of Toronto is trying to take advantage of wishful economic rents and spillover benefits that a Downtown Airport is alleged to provide. What impact this would have on revenues diverted from other airports is an open question, as is the impacts it would have on other businesses in the city and its residents who would then have to deal with its aftereffects.
The State-Corporate NexusAn expanded Billy Bishop airport is hardly a messiah for governments. Journalists have already uncovered the close connections between Porter Airlines, corporate lobbyists and City Hall. From CEO Robert Deluce’s rule-breaking visits to Mayor Ford’s office and maximum campaign donations to a who’s who trade delegation to Chicago made up of conservative luminaries like Mike Harris, Ernie Eves, Bay street law firm lawyer and fundraiser Ralph Lean, and strategist Nick Kouvalis – co-chaired and paid-for Porter Airlines – the ties that bind these stalwarts are plenty. At present, Billy Bishop contributes about 0.1 and 0.4 percent to Ontario and Toronto’s GDP. Rather than allow thinly-veiled conglomerations of moneyed and politically connected elites to determine the economic, ecological and social welfare of Toronto and surrounding areas, on December 17th Toronto city council, residents and the 17 million annual visitors to the waterfront should send a loud and clear message of no to the expansion of Billy Bishop Airport. _____________ Source: Canadian Dimension Magazine article, 2013-11-27 Carlo Fanelli is an Instructor and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Politics & Public Administration, Ryerson University. He maintains a blog at www.carlofanelli.org and can be found on Twitter@carlofanelli
NoJetsTO Endorsers Dr. Garfinkle and Dr. Woolhouse Speak Out Against the Jets November 21, 2013 TORONTO - Get set for takeoff as the debate begins again on the plan to fly jets in and out of downtown. Mayoral crisis notwithstanding, come December 5, city staff are slated to present their report to the executive committee on Porter’s proposal for Island Airport expansion. While supporters of the plan point to the convenience of the new routes, we as community health physicians are struck by more ominous repercussions. We would remind councillors that jet fuel exhaust is a toxic soup of chemicals including black carbon, ultra-fine particulate matter (UPM) and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Black carbon has been associated with increased rates of lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, heart disease, sudden death and cancer. And elevated exposure to UPM is linked to inflammation of blood vessels and lung tissue. PAHs have been associated with increased cancer risk, disruptions in blood hormone levels, reproductive abnormalities in pregnant women and lower IQ scores in children. A 2010 study probing the health of children living near the Santa Monica airport concluded that the high levels of all these chemicals were associated with high incidence of all the above. We are concerned that it will be the children who live, study and play less than 300 metres from the current airport in the high-rises, the Waterfront school, Little Norway Park, the daycare and community centre who will be most affected by the addition of jets. Consider that landings and takeoffs generate the highest emissions and that peak airport periods coincide with times children walk to and from school. This in a neighbourhood already dealing with pollution from the Gardiner Expressway and existing air traffic. In 2011, the Toronto Board of Health requested that the city examine air quality and emissions in southeast Toronto and concluded that pollution has filled our air-shed beyond Health Canada’s safe thresholds. It doesn’t matter that the city’s hired consultants, Airbiz, say the new jets, which spew more toxins than the current propeller planes, meet “most international emission standards.” That seems the best we can hope for, but it’s not good enough. We can’t tolerate further pollution. Then there’s the traffic congestion, already problematic at Bathurst Quay, which will worsen with increased air traffic. Imagine the effect on air quality of hundreds more passengers arriving and departing every day at the corner of Bathurst and Queens Quay. Not to mention the increased number of maintenance vehicles, including many more trucks transporting jet fuel. The interests of corporations cannot be allowed to trump public health and safety. Pressure council to say no to jets. Miriam Garfinkle and Susan Woolhouse are family physicians. _______________________________ Source: NOW Magazine article Further reading: Dr. Garfinkle's and Dr. Woolhouse's letter to City Council
Opinion Piece in The Bulletin: Porter and Co. Dumb Down Public Conversation on Jets November 2, 2013 TORONTO - Words are powerful. They conjure up images in our minds. Our choice of words determines the effect they have on others. Some words are upsetting, others soothing. The language of our politicians is full of words that trigger emotional reactions rather than appeal to our brains. This is intentional. Studies show voters base their views more on emotions than reason. People are busy coping with their own private lives, particularly in more stressful economic times as today. Many public issues are complex, full of technicalities. They are beyond people’s regular lives. They require background, time and concentration. It is easier to exploit gut reactions. (42% of adult Canadians have low literacy skills.) There are conspicuous examples of wordplay affecting us as Torontonians right now. Take the contentious issue of adding jets to the Island airport. Many important and varied considerations are involved such as noise, air and water pollution, health impacts, vehicular traffic and parking, jet fuel delivery and storage, recreational use of the harbour and islands, safety. The existing propeller-driven planes of Porter Air are said to meet noise levels regulated under a 1983 tripartite government agreement. But already there are sustained public complaints about noise, particularly acute during take-off, landing and run-up engine tests. Robert Deluce, head of Porter Air, claims his order for new Bombardier CS100 jets is conditional on the jets being no noisier than his existing planes. For public consumption, he calls the new jets “whisper jets.” This soothing public relations phrase is based on the claim that the new jets will only be less noisy than older, existing jets. No actual, reliable information on the noise levels of the new jet is available today. The jet is not yet in production. Its first real test flight occurred just on Sept. 16 with more tests to follow. Its official, certified noise levels will only be available next spring. This raises a troubling question: Without full information, how then can our city’s present, too quick, supposedly comprehensive airport study to accommodate jets be completed as scheduled for city council consideration next month? If the noise level of the new jets eventually is found to be only slightly higher than Deluce’s present planes, he may well argue the difference is “negligible.” That means ignoring the fact that noise levels are in decibels on a logarithmic scale, not on a regular proportional scale. It means even a small decibel increase means a doubling or more of noise. Aircraft noise levels are a complex, technical matter. International Standards (ICAO) provided by aircraft manufacturers like Bombardier, are only designed to compare noise levels of different aircraft. An assessment of the real impact of both airport and aircraft noise on people, particularly in adjacent areas, must use community standards (visit Google: airport community standards). They deal with reality. They do not deal with emotions evoked by Deluce’s soothing term “whisper jets”. Mayor Rob Ford is also a master at using words to create impressions and to hide realities. He has taken to addressing us as “folks” to create a feeling of chumminess. He calls us “taxpayers” to make us feel pain. For emphasis, to butter us up, he adds “hardworking taxpayers.” It is a favourite phrase of all right-wing politicians. Ford never calls us “citizens,” a word implying responsibilities toward one another as members of a wider society. In his perpetual election campaign mode, Ford now claims to have saved our city a whopping $1 billion since taking office. He claims the major part is $600 million saved through “efficiencies.” His “efficiencies” in reality are often reductions in city services caused by his perpetual tax cuts. Is it more “efficient” for us to wait longer for streetcars and buses? Is it more “efficient” to limit our access to recreational facilities through higher user fees? The list goes on and on. Ford also wants to create the impression he cares about all people. He visits public housing projects of the Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC). He promises to personally ensure cracks in walls be fixed and cockroaches eliminated. Where does the remedial money come from? Not from his city budgets. They have provided no money for affordable housing during his reign. The money must simply come from a reallocation of already insufficient TCHC funds. Ford’s mantra of “subways, subways, subways” is accompanied by just calling advanced light rail transit (LRT) ordinary “streetcars.” His whole approach to public communication is to keep repeating the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid! Source: The Bulletin opinion piece by Stig Harvor, accessed 2013-11-03
Internet News Site Picks Up Property Value Statements by NoJetsTO, Pro-Jets Folks in Editorial October 25, 2013 TORONTO - 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: Newz4u.net editorial