Public Meeting – Come One, Come All

By Tuesday, March 24, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

On March 11, 2015 PortsToronto notified the world of its planned March 31 public meeting in their two-year quest to “Do No Harm” and spend millions on its ‘neutral’ position in bringing PorterPlans to fruition.

Public Meeting Confusion?

This is not the public meeting on the Environmental Assessment (EA) promised in February. The EA , also called a sham EA, is PortsToronto attempt to show how it will “Do No Harm” by bringing in larger aircraft, jets this time, and expanding the runways to limit watercraft manoeuvrability in the harbour and in and out of the Western Gap.

The EA furthermore gives PortsToronto an opportunity to prove its ‘neutrality’ by spending even more money, money that Porter Airlines doesn’t have to pay even though the private company put forward the jet plan proposal. According to the March 11 notification, “The EA public meeting promised in February is now being planned in April.”  Indeed, the sham EA will continue on April 11.

Master Plan Public Meeting

This public meeting for Tuesday, March 31, is a three-part affair.

  • From 5:30 to 6:30 pm , a whole hour to review details of the proposed runway design that PortsToronto consultant WSP wants to reveal;
  • From 7 to 9 pm an undisclosed amount of time for a WSP presentation;
  • Also from 7 to 9 pm any left over time for questions and answers.

The venue is the conveniently located Allstream Centre at Exhibition Place in Room 206.

In the event that members of the public may wish to drive to the venue during rush hour, they will find parking facilities. Others may wish to make their way to the handy location by TTC. Leave plenty of time.

Content for the Public Meeting

WSP, in its Genivar incarnation, first produced a master plan in June 2012 which mysteriously didn’t see the light of day until December 2013 when PortsToronto submitted a copy to the BBTCA City Review. In January 2014 PortsToronto submitted an updated copy, that was essentially the same. A third version, dated July 14, 2014 appeared on PortsToronto’s website on November 28. It’s the third version that the Master Planning Exercise will build on.

The exercise will “assess the infrastructure improvements required to accommodate the introduction of jet aircraft, the extension of the main runway and the associated future activity that might be anticipated as a result.”

What to Look for

A January 24, 2015 handout for that day’s public meeting on the EA listed some concerns the public voiced previously, especially with regard to safety. Somebody, PortsToronto or WSP, moved a number of them from the EA study to the Master Plan exercise. Included are the following.

  • Risk of bird strike (Runway design)
  • Risk of explosion during fuel transport, handling or storage
  • Daytime and nighttime noise levels, noise exceedances
  • Peak noise times
  • MEZ changes
  • Bird strikes (again)
  • Modal split
  • Taxi management

What Else to Look for

The July 2014 Master Plan study identified a number of short comings that BBTCA faces. Perhaps a neutral organization would look at these and address the current situation to make it work better rather than work expansion plans instead.  More likely, all of these opportunities to make the airport work better will either be ignored or will be mitigated away in some form or other as was the practice in PortsToronto EAs. Nevertheless, it is worth looking at some of them. The headings refer to the sections in the 2014 Master Plan.

Draft Master Plan Findings

2.1 Physical Setting
Due to its location in close proximity to Toronto’s downtown waterfront area, the airport is operationally constrained.

3.2.1 Mainland Site
Mainland facilities are already severely constrained. There’s no more real estate available to expand.

3.2.2 Airport Site
Available land for landside infrastructure on site is very constrained.

3.4.1 ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting ) Fire Hall
Given that the Airport is located on an island, the TPA also provides first response to structural fires located on the Airport. To accommodate the additional structural response equipment, two (2) additional apparatus bays are required for a total of five (5) apparatus bays.

3.4.2 Airport Maintenance Garage
In order to meet the ongoing needs of the Airport, a new maintenance garage is required. A minimum of eight (8) equipment bays are required to accommodate the storage of vehicles and equipment.

3.4.3 Materials Storage
The location of this building is not ideal, as access is only possible by crossing an active runway. An alternative new facility should be considered as part of the new combined services building.

3.4.7 Aircraft De-icing
The de-icing of air carrier aircraft takes place on the terminal apron. As part of the de-icing procedure, aircraft are pushed back from their gate position and are de-icing (sic) using mobile equipment. The runoff of effluent from the de-icing operation is captured at catch basins located strategically on the apron and directed to below-grade storage facilities. From there, the runoff is released to the municipal sanitary system. During periods of non-de-icing, runoff is directed to storm water drainage.

Given the tight physical constraints of the Airport, particularly in the vicinity of the terminal building, there is no opportunity to provide a centralized de-icing facility.

3.5 Commercial Development
Further on-site commercial development (to enhance TPA revenues) would require crossing the busiest runway.

5.2.1 Landside – Mainland
Roadway System
There is a need to develop a long-term solution to the landside constraints. The roadway system in the vicinity of BBTCA, particularly lower Bathurst Street, is a major congestion and safety concern.

Taxi Corral
The current capacity of the two (2) taxi queuing lanes is approximately thirty-four (34) vehicles, which during peak periods is at over-capacity. As a result, taxis often stand on the northbound curb lane of Eireann Quay, which presents a significant congestion and safety concern.

What to Expect

If throwing money in search of answers to resolve the problems is any indication of PortsToronto’s neutrality in the quest for jets at BBTCA, the consultant may mitigate all the roadblocks to death and dismiss the objections of unqualified critics.

In a better world, any organization whose mantra is “Do No Harm” might look at the Toronto Medical Officer of Health’s concern about the health impact of current airport operations let alone the expansion being considered and concur that maybe the current location is not such a good place for a very busy airport let alone expand it.

In this world, however, what we could well be facing in PortToronto’s quest for ways to accommodate jets is a sham Master Plan exercise.


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