WATCH ABOVE: You can now get to Billy Bishop airport from mainland Toronto in six minutes thanks to a new pedestrian tunnel that officially opened Thursday. Cindy Pom reports.
TORONTO – Federal and municipal leaders were on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the Billy Bishop airport pedestrian tunnel on Thursday.
“The pedestrian tunnel has been a massive, complicated undertaking since construction began in 2012,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said during a press conference inside the airport atrium on Thursday. “And it really is one of those very unique infrastructure projects in Canada.”
“This tunnel will provide residents and visitors alike with the level of customer service and convenience once would expect from a world-class city like Toronto.”
WATCH: Timelapse walks through Billy Bishop pedestrian tunnel in less than minute
After three years of construction, the tunnel opens to the public Thursday afternoon.
Passengers arriving at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport will be welcomed by the namesake pilot’s Nieuport 17 fighter plane.
On the mainland, passengers will be greeted by life-size bronze statues of Bishop and fellow Canadian fighter ace William Barker before descending 30 metres in elevators to the tunnel that runs 260 metres under the channel.
To access the tunnel, travellers will descend 100 feet and travel along the main passageway via four moving sidewalks.
Work began in 2012 on the $82.5 million tunnel under Lake Ontario to connect the island airport to the mainland.
Councillor Rob Ford, who was mayor when the tunnel plan was agreed upon, issued a statement congratulating the project’s completion but had some choice words for his political rivals.
“Had it not been for the agreement reached in July 2011 between my administration and the Toronto Port Authority, we may have had to wait another 40 years,” he said.
“An agreement that the current Mayor could not participate in, because of his conflicts, and that the Miller administration was strongly opposed to.”
Tory has declared a conflict of interest in any upcoming debate about the expansion of Billy Bishop Airport as a result of his son working as the CEO of Private Air Inc., an airline with an office at the airport.
With a file from John R. Kennedy