In 2013, Porter Airlines submitted a request to the City of Toronto to open the Tripartite Agreement governing Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA) for the purpose of permitting jet-powered aircraft operations and making related changes to airport infrastructure. The resulting Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Review process has been highly contentious.
Some of the points of contention have been the effects that runway and marine exclusion zone extensions will have on the inner harbour and western gap, the environmental impact of emissions and to lake habitat, increased noise, traffic flow around BBTCA, safety, passenger caps and the absence of a master plan for the airport.
SETAC is endorsing NoJetsTO and opposing BBTCA Expansion for the following reasons:
1. As noted in the November 2013 Staff Report (PDF), addressing current traffic and transit-access problems at BBTCA has been estimated to cost up to 300 million dollars. The City of Toronto has higher transit and transportation infrastructure development priorities, for improving transit for more Torontonians, than those related to BBTCA expansion.
SETAC does not support diverting City of Toronto, TTC, or Metrolinx transit and transportation infrastructure funds to expand groundside infrastructure at BBTCA.
2. The Toronto Port Authority has also, without the City’s approval, requested that the Federal Government allocate 100 million dollars of Toronto’s portion of the Building Canada Fund to BBTCA-related improvements.
SETAC believes that City Council – and not TPA – must decide where best to spend the Federal Infrastructure funding it receives through its own planning and analysis.
3. South Etobicoke has some of the poorest air quality in the City of Toronto. The Local Air Quality Study for Wards 5 and 6 completed by City of Toronto staff in March 2014 shows high levels of Nitrogen Oxides and other air contaminants (see Compliance Comparison map and Analysis map. As the study explains, “Exposure to NO2 affects mainly the respiratory system, causing irritation and decreasing the lungs’ ability to fight infection.”
The addition of jets to the existing BBTCA flight paths will lead to a net increase in low altitude overhead jet traffic and a net increase in related emissions over South Etobicoke. As an Air Quality Review prepared for Bombardier by RWDI Air Inc. determined, “NOx emissions are approximately 2 times greater for the CS100 than for the Q400 on a g/seat basis” (p.9). Based on the figures supplied to Bombardier in the report, for each LTO (landing, take off, and taxiing), a Q400 emits 2336 grams of NOx, while a CS100 emits 5917 grams of NOx. Based on greater passenger capacity of a CS100, there is a 2.5-fold increase in NOx emissions per LTO. However, any change to the Tripartite Agreement can not exclude other planes that meet the NEF contour criteria, and therefore, approval of jets could lead to the use of aircraft with up to 140 seats, and corresponding increases in NOx emissions. Jets already pass over Wards 5 and 6 to Pearson International airport. However, they do so earlier in their approach and at higher altitudes and contaminants are less likely to reach the ground.
SETAC believes that noxious emissions over South Etobicoke need to be reduced, and jet traffic at BBTCA will lead to an increase in dangerous air contaminants.
4. Increased jet and plane traffic will adversely affect the ability of Torontonians to enjoy the waterfront in South Etobicoke. Our waterfront parks are the jewels of our neighbourhoods and important gathering places for members of the community, for parents and children, pet owners walking their dogs, ice skaters, bird watchers, cyclists, paddlers and boaters.
SETAC believes that access and enjoyment of the waterfront should be maintained and improved. Jet traffic will detract from recreational uses of the waterfront.