The Toronto Port Authority’s Environmental Assessment (EA)
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
As the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) gears up to conduct its (EA) so it can allow jets at the island airport, it may be useful to look at an overview of how this steward of the waterfront has fared in its past EAs.
Going back to when it took over from the Toronto Harbour Commission in 1999 and its plans to build a fixed link (bridge) to the island airport to its most recent EA for filling in the marine exclusion zone, the port authority’s EAs and Environmental Screenings have exhibited a remarkable consistency.
The chart below outlines the constancy.
|April 1998||Fixed link to the Toronto City Centre Airport: environmental assessment||Dillon Consulting Limited||“… not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects … .”|
|June 2003||June 2003 Draft EA Report _Highlighted Final Draft_||Dillon Consulting Limited||“The proposed Fixed Link Bridge project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”|
|March 25 2011||Dillon Consulting Limited||14 minimal effects during construction and during operationminimal and 0 effects during operation|
|October 2011||Proposed Noise Barriers and Engine Ground Run-Up Enclosure Environmental Screening Report||Dillon Consulting Limited||“no significant effects on the environment”|
|January 2013||Lakefill Within Marine Exclusion Zone (Keep-Out-Area) – Toronto Harbour||Dillon Consulting Limited||“the Project can be developed without adverse significant effects on the environment.”|
It is quite remarkable that through out the port authority’s 15-year existence, regardless of the size or nature of each project, none of the EAs examined the larger context, expansion of airport activity, including introduction of a new commercial carrier using new technology. It is equally remarkable that even with the narrow scope of each project its EA could find no adverse effects on the environment. Strange that Toronto’s medical officer of health produced a study showing the present airport activity constituted a serious health risk and called for its closure.
How does the Toronto Port Authority continue to do or at least claim to do no harm?
For one thing, it follows the requirement for public consultation, by telling interested parties what it will do, and so it meets its statutory obligations.
For another, it offers feedback. However, in the case of the EA for the bridge, the TPA came up a little short as this excerpt of a letter from Krystyn Tully, Executive Director of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper to Lisa Raitt, the port authority’s president and CEO at the time indicates.
“Unfortunately, not one single comment submitted by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper in accordance with the CEAA was answered. To each question or request, the responsible authority replied, ‘Response to be provided,’ with one exception: ‘This request is under consideration’ (Dillon Consulting, Appendix I 40-41). No response has been provided to date.
Will the port authority’s EA on the airport expansion be any different? Will the Toronto Port Authority stand by its commitment to do no harm and forgo expanding the airport in favour of jets? Does a leopard change its spots?