Ford to push for Toronto island airport expansion in council
Mariam Matti and Kendra Mangione, CTV Toronto
Published Monday, March 24, 2014 3:03PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 24, 2014 4:42PM EDT
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he would support the Billy Bishop Airport expansion ahead of a public forum.
"I'm going to fight as hard as I can to get this through council," Ford told CP24 on Monday outside of his office at city hall.
Ford said the expansion would create hundreds of jobs and bring in millions of dollars to the city's economy.
Earlier on Monday, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly weighed in on the costs and benefits of allowing jets to fly in and out of Toronto's island airport.
The economic benefits of expanding Billy Bishop Airport to make room for more flights and larger planes are "obvious to most people," Kelly told CP24.
However, Kelly said he’s aware of the serious concerns expressed by members of the community.
“I take those concerns seriously," he said.
In particular, the community is worried about loud noises and the environmental impact associated with larger aircraft in the area.
Kelly also said he was aware of potential traffic issues in an already congested part of the city. He said he would need to see that all worries were addressed before approving the expansion.
Concerns are expected to be voiced at a meeting of Toronto's executive committee on Tuesday, which is open to the public.
Porter has said that runway expansions would allow the airline to increase its services, which have grown from 26,000 passengers in 2006 to 2.3 million passengers in 2013.
Last year, the airline signed a multi-billion-dollar deal to purchase up to 30 jets from Bombardier contingent on the runway expansion.
Porter has argued that without extending the runways by 200 metres at each end, the island airport can only accommodate small turboprop engine planes.
In January, Toronto Port Authority CEO Geoffrey Wilson told CTV Toronto that airplane noise restrictions would not change despite the expansion, and if a jet couldn’t meet the strict guidelines, it would not be permitted to fly.
Nightly curfews would remain firmly set between 11 p.m. and 6:45 a.m., he said.
Expanding the airport would also reduce boat movements, according to a statement issued Monday from public transportation advocacy group Transport Action Ontario.
High velocity blasts off the larger planes may be unsafe for small boats using the harbour, the statement said.
The expansion might also impede development of large buildings in the Toronto Port Lands area.
"In the worst case, introduction of jets at (Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport) could significantly curtail developments in the Port Lands worth billions of dollars,” the statement said.