March 24, 2014 12:32 pm
Updated: March 24, 2014 12:53 pm

‘Safety zones’ to be impacted by island airport expansion: report

TORONTO – An Ontario transportation advocacy group warns the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport expansion plan will severely reduce waterway traffic in the area and further hinder development on the city’s waterfront.

A report released by Transport Action Ontario (TAO) indicates safety zones will need to be increased in order for the new jets to land, which means more area will be restricted for commercial or recreational use.

“Unless Transport Canada provides exemptions, these safety restrictions would alter almost beyond recognition the access and freedom Torontonians presently enjoy on the water. The proponents have not addressed these restrictions,” said TAO President Peter Miasek in a media release.

Porter Airlines has already signed a conditional deal with Bombardier to buy up to 30 CS100 jets based on the city’s approval of an expansion.

Public concerns were focused around implications to noise, convenience and possible environmental implications of the proposed changes.

READ MORE: What do the mayoral candidates say about Porter’s expansion plans?

The TAO report says the runway extension needed to accomodate the new jets would change the “marine exclusion zone,” where boating is not permitted, from the current 305 metres to between 830 and 1190 metres from the end of the island, “tripling the off limit area.”

“Our study clearly demonstrates the airport cannot be expanded to accommodate jets without dramatically increasing the restricted areas in the harbour as well as significantly impede boat traffic through the Western Channel,” said Gordon Woodmansey, lead researcher on the TAO report.

The report also says airport expansion will impede development of the Toronto Port Lands by limiting the size of many potential tall buildings from being built.

One of the city’s biggest fans of the airport extension proposal is Mayor Rob Ford and he validated his support while talking to reporters on Monday.

“It’s very convenient down here, I try to use it as much as I can. And Pearson? You can’t compare the two,” he said.

“It’s going to bring millions of dollars into our economy and to me, this is just game playing and I’m going to fight as hard as I can.”

A city report released last week also called for passengers coming in and out of the airport to be capped at 2.4 million and daily flights at 202 before any discussion on expansion is made.

Toronto Port Authority is seeking up to $100 million in federal funding for infrastructure improvements related to airport access, a runway extension and a proposed use of Bombardier C-series jets.

-with files from The Canadian Press

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